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Tuesday, February 10, 2004

SU Senior Presents Leukemia Research to Scientists

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University senior biology major Meagan Orth is helping the medical community understand how fish oils could assist in cancer treatments. The Etters, PA, resident recently presented her research at a meeting of international scientists. Orth gave a presentation titled “The Effects of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) on T27A Murine Leukemia Cells and CHSE and ZFL Fish Cells,” at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in New Orleans, LA. In her talk Orth described how a fatty acid commonly found in fish oil is able to dramatically reduce the growth of mouse leukemia. She also discovered the mechanism of how the molecule triggers cell death. “DHA is abundant in fish oil, and is known to have positive effects on human cardiovascular health,” said Orth. “It also causes cancer cells to die, and nobody knows why or how”. She found that the DHA molecule turns on a set of enzymes called caspases: “The caspases are the arbiters of a genetic program called programmed cell death. This is the same program that causes the cells of a tadpole’s tail to disintegrate. DHA is activating these enzymes in tumor cells too, and it causes the cells to essentially commit mass suicide.” Orth performed her experiments as an undergraduate research student in the laboratory of Dr. E. Eugene Williams, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. “Meagan is the senior researcher in our laboratory,” said Williams. “She really has worked hard and is proof that hard work pays off. Her talk was received very well at the meeting. Her presentation was very professional.” Orth is the daughter of and Richard and Patricia Orth of Etters, PA.

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