By Brandi Klingerman:
Dr. Panopoulos, the Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, director of the Flow Cytometry Core Facility, and affiliated member of the Harper Cancer Research Institute, and her team are focused on using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, or cells that have been reprogrammed to behave as though they are in an embryonic-like state. The iPS cells are utilized as a system to better understand how cancer cells are able to mediate their aggressiveness by inappropriately exploiting stem-like mechanisms. Dr. Conner will use the iPS cells to study tumor-initiating cancer cells in order to investigate the hypothesis that both kinds use similar mechanisms to modify cell behavior.
In explanation, Dr. Conner said, “It was originally thought that once cells in the body have differentiated, or have been assigned for a certain purpose, like to become a skin cell or a red blood cell, that cells could not become anything else. However, iPS cells are created by reprogramming these differentiated cells back into an embryonic-like state to become a completely different cell.”