Scrolling Headlines:

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August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

Professor Forbes implanted the cancer-fighting protein into mice with breast tumors

University of Massachusetts Amherst chemical engineering professor Neil Forbes has successfully implanted the cancer-fighting protein TRAIL into mice with breast tumors and activated it. According to a release, 100 percent of the mice survived over the next 30 days after the cancer-fighting protein was implanted.

TRAIL stands for tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, and it is a short group of connected amino acids, known as a peptide, which targets cancer cells. It forms a bond with a cancer cell and triggers apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

According to a release, scientists had known that several common bacteria, such as salmonella, are attracted to cancer cells more than they are attracted to healthy cells. When a variety of salmonella that does not cause disease was genetically engineered, Forbes designed experiments with Sabha Ganai, a surgical oncologist with the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute to see if the safe salmonella could move the TRAIL protein directly to solid tumors.

The experiment was successful. Ganai and Forbes engineered a bacterium called Salmonella typhimurium to carry the TRAIL peptide and made sure that it would only be activated by a protein responsible for DNA repair normally found in E. coli called the RecA promoter.

The modified bacterium was injected into groups of genetically identical mice who had breast cancer. After two days, according to the release, the bacteria had multiplied to around 10 million in each tumor. Then each group was given either a single dose or a double dose of low level radiation. The radiation damaged the bacterial DNA slightly but enough to activate the RecA promoter protein and trigger the production of TRAIL. Most importantly, the use of TRAIL and the modified Salmnonella typhimurium bacteria poses minimal danger to the patient.

Each group did well with the treatment; however the group that received two doses of radiation showed the most improvement.

According to the release, Ganai and Forbes believe that in the future, cancer patients will be able to receive injections of the bacteria and the light irradiation therapy with much less suffering than they experience now.

The experiments were supported with funding from the National Cancer Institute and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The findings have appeared in the “British Journal of Cancer.”  

Matthew M. Robare can be reached at

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