New Technology May Speed Cancer Research

Cancer Research pic
Cancer Research
Image: news.virginia.edu

In pursuit of a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, Sherif El-Refai also serves as an oncology pharmacist at the university’s Markey Cancer Center. As part of the Black Lab at the College of Pharmacy, Sherif El-Refai researches the ways in which gene expression affects patient responses to cancer treatments.

Under the leadership of researcher J. Julius Zhu, associate professor of pharmacology, a research team at the University of Virginia School of Medicine has created a new technique that lets scientists more quickly assess gene mutations and their effect. The technique uses lentivirus, a form of retrovirus similar to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which replaces normal genes with mutated versions.

The technology allows scientists to assess the effect of each mutation on the body. It is more time and cost efficient than currently available methods of studying gene mutation, and thus will be more accessible to the typical research laboratory. With this new technology, research that would have once taken 10 years will take only three months.

Dr. Zhu has suggested that this advancement will allow physicians to develop better customized treatments. By identifying the type and nature of a gene mutation, physicians may be able to suggest interventions that are likely to generate the proper level of gene activity.

The UK Markey Cancer Center – NCI-Designated

 

Pharmacists and Cancer Care

 

The Focus of the Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery (CNDD)

Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery pic
Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery
Image: pharmacy.unc.edu

Dr. Sherif El-Refai attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, where he earned a doctor of pharmacy in 2011. While there, Dr. Sherif El-Refai also gained clerkship experience in the areas of ambulatory care, inpatient medicine, and ICU trauma.

Proclaimed by US News and World Report as the number one pharmacy school in the country, the Eshelman School of Pharmacy encompasses the Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery (CNDD), researching new systems for medication delivery.

The CNDD is studying the effects of using sciences such as nanofabrication (creating devices that are measured in nanometers). One nanometer is equal to a millionth of a millimeter. Procedures like nanotoxicology or determining the health risks of nanomaterials to individuals are also being studied to produce safer and more efficient delivery systems for drugs. The CNDD hosts workshops and seminars regularly to discuss research and advancements in drug delivery systems, such as the annual Nanomedicine and Drug Delivery Symposium that drew more than 275 participants representing 11 different countries.

Markey Cancer Center Uses SPORE Grant to Study Colon and Liver Cancer

A pharmacist holding an MBA from the University of Florida, Sherif El-Refai recently began a doctoral program at the University of Kentucky. Pursuing a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences, Sherif El-Refai concurrently works at the Markey Cancer Center, where he serves as an oncology pharmacist.

A cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute, the Markey Cancer Center focuses on developing research studies that enhance therapies offered to patients diagnosed with various forms of the disease. In 2009, the university’s center was awarded a Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant. One of only six cancer centers to receive the grant, the organization obtained $1.5 million in funding to support studies on colon and liver cancer.

Employing tissue procurement and analysis as well as biostatistics, the research team, led by Dr. B. Mark Evers, evaluates tumor stroma, mucosa, and colorectal cancer cases to locate the underlying components that progress colorectal cancer. In terms of liver cancer, researchers are looking for a direct link between hepatitis C virus proteins and the disease.

Strategic Plan to Direct University of Kentucky HealthCare until 2020

After earning a doctor of pharmacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and working as a pharmacist, Sherif El-Refai decided to return to school to pursue a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Kentucky. Sherif El-Refai also secured a role as an oncology pharmacist at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

In June 2015, UK issued a press release to announce that the UK HealthCare Committee of the school’s board of trustees received a strategic plan outlining the future of UK HealthCare through 2020. The plan was developed to build upon UK HealthCare’s previous 10 years of success, which includes a 95 percent increase in full-time employees since 2004 and the inclusion of an additional 120 licensed beds in 2014. By authorizing the new strategic plan, the UK HealthCare Committee has encouraged stakeholders to commit to collaborative models, the patient experience, and service line integration.

The plan calls for the creation of a cultural change program and service line growth at a number of facilities, such as the Markey Cancer Center and Kentucky Children’s Hospital. According to the press release, service line growth will involve investment in operational efficiency, the continued treatment of the most complex cases, a redesigned transfer management program, and expanded partnerships with community physicians.