The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute logo
  • Victoria Northrup

Supervisor:

Dr. Keith R. Brunt

Program of Study:

PhD, Pharmacology

Research Summary:

Anemia, a condition where the body does not produce enough blood, is common in cancer and decreases a person’s quality of life. Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone that controls how our body makes new blood cells. That knowledge enabled several drugs (ex. Eprex) to be developed to treat anemia yet they are not safe to use in all patients – especially cancer patients. We cannot use the current EPO drug in cancer patients because a side-effect would be to protect cancer cells from chemotherapy. Thus, too many patients go untreated for anemia today. We recently discovered that our DNA has several different types of EPO. Some of these EPO forms are helpful and some are harmful when people get certain diseases like cancer, diabetes or heart disease. My research will map the different EPO forms in the DNA of patients with heart disease and patients with blood cancers. We have discovered two new EPO forms in animals and humans that we believe would make excellent new drugs for cancer patients with anemia, without any risk of protecting cancer cells from chemotherapy. However, first we must do the research to make sure the newly discovered EPO based drugs can be used without the side effects in cells and animal models. These new drugs could potentially benefit patients very quickly.

Scholarships and/or Awards:

  • Cancer Research Training Program (CRTP) Traineeship Award 2020

Location:

Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick
Site by: Spectacle Group