Student pharmacist receives award from national organization

Not a morning person? Neither are your kidneys.

Research from the Washington State University College of Pharmacy suggests there may be benefits to timing chemotherapy in cancer patients with the time of day your body is “most awake.”

Daniel Sorensen, a student in the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program at WSU in Spokane, is studying chronopharmacology in the research lab of WSU Assistant Professor Shobhan Gaddameedhi as part of the college’s Pharm.D. Honors Program.

The honors program provides opportunities for student pharmacists to explore areas of interest that complement and enhance their experiences in the Pharm.D. program through developing and conducting formal research projects. This research component allows a student pharmacist to strategically align his or her personal pharmacy interests and future career goals by providing deeper expertise in that interest area.

“Our laboratory is interested in understanding how cancer treatment will be more effective by administering that treatment during certain cycles of circadian rhythms,” said Panshak Dakup, a graduate student also working in Gaddameedhi’s lab.

Up to 43 percent of the genes in the body are regulated by the circadian clock, which vary in expressions at different times of the day and give rise to different physiological patterns. Among this 43 percent are 175 drug targets that are clock-controlled genes, including 56 of the top 100 best-selling drugs in the United States, said Dakup and Gaddameedhi.

Gaddameedhi and Dakup worked with Sorensen to study the commonly used chemotherapy drug cisplatin. His project explored the expression levels of both cisplatin transporter molecules and cisplatin-DNA repair activity, which are the key players of cisplatin resistance and toxicity, against a 24-hour cycle in mouse kidney and liver tissues. Nephrotoxicity is one of cisplatin’s major limitations as a chemotherapeutic drug.

“The circadian clock regulates the genotoxic-mediated signaling pathways including drug transport, DNA repair, checkpoint activity, and apoptosis, which are key for minimizing drug toxicity in normal tissues and increasing anti-cancer therapeutic drug efficacy,” said Gaddameedhi.

Sorensen’s project builds on previous research conducted by Gaddameedhi that demonstrates the cellular and molecular mechanisms for timing of chemotherapy with circadian rhythm has a potential to minimize renal toxicity and side effects in genetic mouse models.

“This science is concerned with systematically harnessing these varying expression levels of drug targets within biological systems to administer treatments for various diseases at specific times of day,” said Dakup.

This means coordinating chemotherapy treatments with the time of day when a patient’s body is at peak expression of drug transporter and DNA repair molecules could help optimize the patient’s own metabolism to fight against drug toxicity and side effects. However, further study will be needed to pinpoint the mechanistic cause associated with circadian dosing before it can be tested in patient treatment plans.

This research recently garnered Sorensen a graduate student travel award from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) to attend their annual meeting at the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego, California, in April.

“This award is presented to outstanding graduate students to enable them to present their research at one of the largest biological scientific meetings in the world,” said Carla Burns, a program coordinator with ASPET.

Sorensen is from Richland, Washington. He received an Associate in Science Transfer Degree from Columbia Basin College and completed his pre-pharmacy coursework at WSU Tri-Cities. He is currently in his final year of the WSU Pharm.D. program.

“My favorite part of this research has been working with one of the less understood facets of pharmacologic research, as well as working with the amazing team of researchers in Dr. Gaddameedhi’s lab,” said Sorensen.

Dakup is a graduate student working on his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences. He is from Pankshin, a city in Plateau State, Nigeria, and completed his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Columbia College in Missouri. He first came to WSU in 2014 to participate in the College of Pharmacy’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. The “togetherness” of the faculty and students at WSU and supportive values held by the College of Pharmacy influenced him to pursue his Ph.D. here, which he began in the fall of 2015.

“In addition to the healthy environment, the quality of research being done by Dr. Gaddameedhi and at the College of Pharmacy is remarkable,” said Dakup. “My favorite part of this research was the strategic thought process involved in building a research project with little references because of the knowledge gap in the field of chronotherapy.”

Research at the WSU College of Pharmacy supports the university’s land-grant mission to address some of society’s most complex issues, specifically WSU’s efforts surrounding developing practical solutions to challenging problems in health care delivery, health care access and disease prevention.

[June 1, 2016] By: Lori J. Maricle