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  • Andrea Tomko, BSc


Dr. Denis J. Dupré

Program of Study:

MSc, Pharmacology

Project Title:

Investigating the anticancer effects of flavonoids found in Cannabis in paclitaxel resistant preclinical models of breast cancer and their role in mediating drug resistance mechanisms

Research Summary:

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Treatment options have improved over the years and survival rates have increased. However, problems arise when a patient no longer responds to common anticancer drugs, which limits treatment options. This project aims to look for new treatment options for patients when common anticancer drugs no longer work for them. Cannabis is a promising option because many patients may already use medical cannabis to cope with negative side effects of their cancer and studies have shown that some compounds within the cannabis plant are able to kill certain types of cancer. This project will look at compounds found in cannabis called flavonoids and determine their ability to kill breast cancer cells that common drug treatments are not able to kill. The flavonoids will then be combined with other compounds such as THC and CBD, and anticancer drugs patients may already be taking. The flavonoids and combinations of compounds will then be tested using an animal model of breast cancer. Compounds will be tested to determine how and why they are able to kill the cells that are not responding to other drugs. This will determine what combination of compounds will work best together and how much of each compound is needed. Determining what compounds in cannabis work well together with anticancer drugs to kill breast cancer cells could reveal new treatment options for patients.

Scholarships and/or Awards:

  • Cancer Research Training Program (CRTP) Traineeship Award, 2020
  • Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2020
  • Faculty of Science Undergraduate Research Prize, Dalhousie University, 2020

Career Aspirations:

My interest is in the field of cancer biology with a focus on chemotherapeutic resistant cancers. After completing my MSc at Dalhousie, I plan to complete a PhD and pursue a career in cancer research in industry or in academia.


Dalhousie University


Tomko, A., Whynot, E., Ellis, L.D., Dupré, D.J. (2020). Anti-cancer potential of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids Present in Cannabis. Cancers, 12, 1985.

Tomko, A., O'Leary, L., Trask, H., Achenbach, J. C., Hall, S. R., Goralski, K. B., Ellis, L.D., Dupré, D. J. (2019). Antitumor Activity of Abnormal Cannabidiol and Its Analog O-1602 in Taxol-Resistant Preclinical Models of Breast Cancer. Frontiers in pharmacology, 10, 1124. doi:10.3389/fphar.2019.01124

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