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Xiaojie Yu Wins Award To Research Two Leading Causes of Cancer-Related Deaths

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Author: GSBS | Category: Of Interest | Cancer Biology | Cancer Biology | January 09, 2017

Cancer Biology student Xiaojie Yu just received a one-year 2016 Greehey Graduate Student Fellowship Award. He is in the lab of Dr. Alex Pertsemlidis.

Yu is researching the relationship between neuroblastoma and lung cancer. Neuroblastoma is the second leading cause for cancer-related deaths in children and the most common extracranial solid pediatric tumor; lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.

"My project studied both neuroblastoma and lung cancer because of the close relation between them, with findings in one often informative as to the biology of the other," he said.

As part of his project, he has been screening and validating miRNAs that regulate cell viability alone or in combination with widely-used therapeutic agents, in both neuroblastoma and lung cancer cells. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) which are small non-coding RNAs that inhibit gene expression by direct binding to the 3’UTRs of target genes. 

"Neuroblastoma and lung cancer have same mutations or changes in same genes or miRNAs, such as mutations of ALK and N-Myc genes and dowregulation of let-7 miRNA family," he said. "Understanding of one cancer cannot replace, but at least can provide some useful clues for, the study of the other. My study will enhance our understandings of how miRNAs regulate cancer cell growth and their response to chemotherapy."

Yu is very excited to receive the Greehey Fellowship.

"The fellowship will open more valuable opportunities to me to study the pressing questions in cancer by making it financially feasible for me to be able to attend cancer conferences."

After graduation Yu plans to continue his career in cancer research.

"I look forward to seeing my work help understand cancer and treat patients," he said. 

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