Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

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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