Doctoral Student’s Mission? Stopping Lung Cancer in Its Tracks
Kent State University doctoral candidate Pratyusha Ghanta became fascinated by cancer and how it works after earning her bachelor’s degree many years ago in her native India.
Five years ago when she enrolled in a program through Kent State and Northeast Ohio Medical University she was excited to discover she could do cancer research here.
"When I joined Dr. [Moses] Oyewumi’s lab I asked him if I could get a project in cancer, any type of cancer,” Ghanta said. “I was ecstatic when he said that he does have a project in this specific field and that we can work on exploring how long it takes for cancer to spread to the bone.” Oyewumi is an assistant professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences at Kent State's College of Arts and Sciences.
Ghanta’s presentation earned her third place in Kent State’s fall 2023 Three Minute Thesis competition.
Her presentation, “Stopping Lung Cancer in its Tracks” focused on how to stop lung cancer from spreading to the bones, which is the final stage of the disease that yields poor survival rates, according to Ghanta.
“The reason why the current treatment is failing is because we lack the understanding of how cancers communicate with the bone cells,” she said.
Ghanta's research used previous studies on exosomes, which are “extracellular vesicles generated by all cells and they carry nucleic acids, proteins, lipids, and metabolites. They are mediators of near and long-distance intercellular communication in health and disease and affect various aspects of cell biology,” according to the National Institute on Health.
Here is Ghanta explaining her research during her Three Minute Thesis Presentation:
As a volunteer on a humanitarian mission, Ghanta saw firsthand how important it is to stop cancer in its tracks. She visited a small village in her native Hyderabad, India, where people were living with cancerous tumors but never sought medical care at the hospital only minutes away from their homes.
Witnessing people who had financial resources but did not understand that they had to seek medical care in time to stop their cancers from spreading was inspirational. Ghanta and the other group members set up a medical camp for the villagers.
“This was really an eye-opening experience when I saw a woman who had a tumor the size of a baseball on her knee and she didn’t know what to do,” Ghanta said. “That motivated me. Health care is one way to do research.”
Ghanta plans to graduate in May 2024 after a tremendous five-year run at Kent State.
“Kent State has so much to offer,” Ghanta said. “I am genuinely grateful that it gave me the opportunity to pursue my doctorate here. There are so many resources that I don’t think I have taken advantage of all of them. It has been an amazing journey and Kent State deserves all the credit.”