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    Biology students work to create “monkey wrenches”
    to stop cancer cell progression
    By Melissa Stanz




                                                                                                            PhotograPhs by matt rose
    odds Are most of us know someone
    touched by cancer. And too many of us
    also know the horrible toll that chemo-
    therapy drugs and radiation take as they
    kill cancer and other cells to stop cancer
    cell progression.
    A dedicated group of uNc Asheville
    students working with Ted Meigs, associ-
    ate professor of biology, is conducting
    research on proteins within cells that
    may lead to creating molecular “mon-
    key wrenches” that delay or even stop
    these proteins from interacting. stunting
    or eliminating the protein interactions
    may keep cancer cells from metastasiz-
    ing—which could eventually lead to new       Last year, former N.c. rep. Wilma sherrill
    treatments for cancer.                       of Asheville introduced Meigs to shelton
                                                 earp, Lineberger professor and director
“When we learn which proteins interact
                                                 of the center. shortly thereafter, earp
 with each other, we can create ways
                                                 invited Meigs to present a seminar in
 to stop those interactions. With this
                                                 chapel Hill, which quickly led to an offer
 research, the scientific community will
                                                 for Meigs to become an affiliate member
 have better information about these
                                                 of the Lineberger center.
 protein functions that hopefully will lead
 to more discoveries about how cancer             Meigs is the first professor outside uNc
 cells work,” said Meigs. “What I hope is         chapel Hill to receive this distinction.
 that this gives rise to more accurate and       “This is a huge honor; a highlight of my
 targeted medicines that have fewer side          career, and I’m very grateful,” said Meigs.
 effects and are less damaging to normal,
                                                 Working with Meigs on the cancer
 healthy cells.”
                                                 research are uNc Asheville seniors
    The research is funded by a $50,000          brandon booker, Joseph Martin, ellyn
    grant (renewable for a second year) from     Montgomery and William smolski. The
    the university cancer research Fund,         $50,000 grant provides stipends so the
    which is managed by the uNc Lineberger       students can work full time in the lab and
    comprehensive cancer center in chapel        focus solely on this research. Meigs notes
                                                                                                 Above: (Left) Meigs and senior
    Hill.                                        that this talented undergraduate group is




“
                                                 learning how to grow genetically engi-          Ellyn Montgomery examine a petri
    When we learn which                          neered cells and splice dNA to encode
                                                 specialized proteins, skills that are usually   dish for growth of bacteria contain-
    proteins interact with                       learned in graduate school.                     ing a modified gene. (Right) Meigs
    each other, we can                            smolski, a Hendersonville, N.c., native,       studies the results of an experiment
    create ways to stop those                     thoroughly enjoys doing this lab work.
                                                 “I want to make a contribution, to know         in polyacrylamide gels.
    interactions.”                                that something I worked on made a dif-
— Associate Professor of Biology Ted Meigs        ference; that it really mattered,” he said.


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