Department studies two prominent cancers

Katrina Sargent

Katrina Sargent

The SDSU pharmaceutical sciences department is doing research on skin and colon cancer, as well as improving cancer treatment.

“We have a cohesive, energetic group of faculty members,” said Chandradhar Dwivedi, the head of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department. “I believe we are headed in the right direction to have an impact.”

Dwivedi said the research team is focusing on skin and colon cancer because both are high in the state.

The department is researching the effects of different molecules on skin cancer development. Dwivedi said there are a number of molecules from natural oils and plants that have been responding well in tests on mice.

Dwivedi is doing work with flax, a plant grown in North and South Dakota. Its oil and meal have been found to be high in Omega-3 fatty acids.

In Dwivedi’s research, some mice were given a flax-enriched diet and others had just a regular diet. Those with the flax had few colon tumors.

Other professors are working to reverse chemotherapy resistance.

“Cancer cells do not always respond to chemotherapy,” said Dwivedi. “They are working to reverse the drug resistance.”

Researchers take the cancer cells, put them in contact with the drugs and expose them to chemotherapy, Dwivedi said.

There is also research to help reduce the side effects of treatment.

“Treatment with chemotherapy causes harm to other cells,” said Dwivedi.

Targeting only the cancer cells will help lower toxic effects on the rest of the body, hopefully reducing things like hair loss and other effects associated with chemotherapy.

The funding for SDSU’s pharmaceutical research comes from a variety of places such as the National Institute of Health, the Canola Council, the Department of Defense and the Skin Cancer Foundation of America. Currently, the research team receives $1 million.