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Bringing It Home – The Saint Rose Blog

Featured Faculty: Amina Eladdadi’s Cancer-Treatment Paper Featured in Nature

Amina Eladdadi, associate professor of mathematics at Saint Rose

 

Saint Rose professors teach their students without relying on teaching assistants. They lead small classes and make themselves available to support students individually. But many of our faculty members across the disciplines also actively pursue their own scholarly work.

Students benefit by attending professional conferences alongside their professor-mentors or by learning first-hand about verifiable research methods. They assist with professors’ experiments or data collection, or collaborate through guided summer research grants. Some leave Saint Rose as co-authors of published papers.

A look at one professor’s current work:

Amina Eladdadi, associate professor of mathematics; B.S. computer science, Saint Rose; Ph.D. applied mathematics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Joined Saint Rose faculty: 2009

Teaches: all levels of math; supervises undergraduate research, including summer and semester-long independent studies at Albany Medical College

Research specialty: using math to understand the interaction of cancers within their environments; and to analyze treatments and detection methods. Author of numerous journal articles; used three NSF grants to present workshops on how to use mathematical modeling in cancer research.

Also, engages young women in STEM fields.

Latest paper: Nature Scientific Reports; January 2020, “Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) Used as Carrier Cells of Oncolytic Adenovirus Results in Enhanced Oncolytic Virotherapy,” with Khaphetsi Joseph Mahasa, Lisette de Pillis, Rachid Ouifki, Philip Maini, A-Rum Yoon, and Chae-Ok Yun

The details: Professor Eladdadi has devoted more than 20 years to researching how the detection and treatment of cancer can be improved. Her disease-fighting weapon of choice: math, which she has used to strengthen breast cancer detection and optimize its treatment.

“Math is beautiful,” she explained. “But you don’t just want to create something that is beautifully mathematical. You want to connect the abstract with actual data.”

In this case, she and her collaborators dovetailed with biomedical engineers from across the globe who were working with new therapies that target cancer cells without harming healthy ones.

The so-called oncolytic virotherapy – which uses genetically engineered viruses – has shown promise fighting advanced and metastatic cancers. The trouble is, our immune system often eliminates the “viruses.”

In response, scientists have loaded stem cells with the virotherapy – in effect hiding the cancer-fighting agents from the cells that might fight them off. Limited data showed success.

Eladdadi wanted to know more. She and colleagues took the front-line scientists’ initial findings and devised a mathematical model to greatly expand the experimental results.

Their study, the first of its kind, confirmed that the stem cells are an effective delivery method for the cancer treatment. From it, she wrote the paper that has been published in Nature’s scientific research arm.

This research will inform oncolytic virotherapy schedules and, Eladdadi said, can provide basic guidelines for optimizing treatment response and help inform clinical trials that involve aggressive and inaccessible tumors.

“Currently, clinical trials using the stem cells as vehicles for delivering OVs are underway,” she explained. “And our mathematical framework adds new valuable information, which may help to determine how stem cells may actually translate into meaningful clinical outcomes.”

Impact of her work on students: I believe in the value of integrating cutting-edge research and education. I strive to bring my rich research and cultural experiences to the classroom to share with our students and the campus community.

What do you think?

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