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LILAC Grant Enables Researchers to Gain Deeper Insight into Mechanisms of Cancer


Daniel Canals, PhD, a research assistant professor at the Stony Brook Cancer Center, has received a grant from the Long Island League to Abolish Cancer (LILAC) for the purchase of two cutting-edge instruments that enable him and colleagues to better understand how lipids are regulated in cancer, and in turn, the many functions that lipids perform in cancer cells.

The instruments — the Scilogex Spectrophotometer and Benchmark Scientific BV1010, BenchMixer (Vortexer) — work together to measure ceramide molecules on the plasma membranes of both normal cells and cancerous cells, allowing researchers to gain a deeper insight into the mechanisms of cancer by comparing the normal cells to the cancerous ones.

More specifically, the Spectrophotometer monitors optimal growth of bacterial cells used for the purification of specific proteins that, once purified, are added to normal and cancer cells to measure ceramide on the plasma membranes. The Vortexer is then used to extract ceramide from within the cells. This particular instrument allows the synchronous processing of multiple samples to minimize variation across samples and time of analysis.

Stony Brook Cancer Center researchers by the new equipment, from left: Nihal Medatwal, postdoctoral associate; Daniel Canals, assistant research professor, and Anne Ostermeyer-Fay, senior research support specialist.
Credit: Terri Quinn, Stony Brook Cancer Center

Canals and Yusuf Hannun, MD, director of the Cancer Center, vice dean for Cancer Medicine, and the Joel Strum Kenny Professor in Cancer Research, developed the method using these instruments to analyze lipid regulation in cancer cells.

Dedicated to funding vital cancer research equipment for leading institutions, LILAC presented Canals his grant at its annual meeting this summer in Plainview, NY. The nonprofit has funded the acquisition of dozens of innovative laboratory instruments for the Stony Brook Cancer Center since 1998, totaling more than $250,000. This equipment is used collectively by several investigators at the Cancer Center to improve diagnostics and therapies and aid in the development of new, more effective treatment options for patients.

“We are extremely grateful for these new instruments and always grateful for the efforts and contributions of LILAC to end cancer,” said Canals.

New instruments for cancer research: Scilogex Spectrophotometer (on left, white) and Benchmark Scientific BV1010, BenchMixer (Vortexer). Credit: Terri Quinn, Stony Brook Cancer Center

The instruments awarded to Canals will also be utilized by other researchers in the Lipid Signaling and Metabolism in Cancer (LSMC) Program, including Dr. Hannun; Christopher Clarke, PhD; Cungui Mao, PhD; Chiara Luberto, PhD; and Postdoctoral Associate Fabiola Velazquez.

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