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Panshak Dakup’s Three Minute Thesis

The Benefits of Circadian Function in Cancer Therapy

Almost every organism possesses a genetically-encoded circadian clock mechanism that matches most of the body’s processes with the time of the day. Recent research has shown the relationship between the circadian system and therapies, such as anti-cancer drugs. Cisplatin is one of the most commonly used chemotherapeutic drugs in treating a variety of cancers. The mechanism of action of cisplatin is by binding to DNA, causing DNA damage, disrupting cellular processes, and ultimately killing cancer cells. Unfortunately, the major limitation of cisplatin (and numerous similar anticancer agents) is its tumor resistance and toxicity, especially nephrotoxicity (kidney injury) and leucopenia (low white blood cell count). This is a major problem in patient care and causes numerous side effects. In order to reduce or possibly eliminate cisplatin-induced toxicities, we are exploring the use of chronotherapy. Chronotherapy is the administration of treatment at specific times of the day to maximize efficacy and/or minimize toxicity, but its clinical impact is limited due to a lack of knowledge of the responsible mechanisms. Hence, my thesis is focused on whether the timed administration of anti-cancer agents will make them more effective and lead to fewer side effects, ultimately improving cancer treatment strategies and patient outcomes.

Panshak Dakup is an international student from Nigeria who moved to the U.S. in 2011 to pursue his college education. He earned his B.A. in Chemistry from Columbia College, Missouri, in 2015. In the summer of his junior year as an undergraduate student, Panshak participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program hosted by the WSU College of Pharmacy, and that played a major role in shaping his career aspirations. Currently, he is a graduate student working under the mentorship of Dr. Shobhan Gaddameedhi in the Department of Pharmaceutical Science at WSU Spokane. His research interest is in understanding the mechanisms underlying chronopharmacology of anti-cancer agents for more efficient clinical application. Panshak loves music and plays the drum for his church’s worship team. He also enjoys playing/watching soccer.