A UT Arlington bioengineering
researcher has secured two new grants worth $1.13 million to track how cancerous
cells damaged by radiation therapy work to repair themselves and apply that system
to research focused on better cancer care.
George Alexandrakis, an
assistant professor of bioengineering, specializes in sub-cellular imaging and
is collaborating on the project with David Chen, director of the Molecular
Radiation Biology Division in Department of Radiation Oncology, at The
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
“Ultimately, we want to kill
cancer cells more efficiently and save the good cells,” Alexandrakis said.
The first grant – a $342,000 National
Institutes of Health award – charges Alexandrakis with creating a system to
measure how fast certain proteins come and go in a cell’s nucleus as they are
trying to repair DNA.
A second, $789,000 grant from
the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, will enable Alexandrakis
to apply the technique he develops for imaging repair activity within a cell to
work conducted by other members of Chen’s Texas research team, which include
faculty from UT Southwestern, UT MD Anderson Center and UT Austin.
One challenge in treating cancer
is that tumors are often embedded in otherwise healthy tissue, Alexandrakis
said. Radiation therapy often destroys healthy cells near bad ones. It also
leads to “misrepaired” DNA in some cells, which can become aberrant cancer
cells that resist therapy.
Chen said the partnership with
Alexandrakis has been mutually beneficial.
“I needed someone who knows
optical physics and imaging,” Chen said. “George is an expert in that field. He
knows the hardware, the software and the pictures that need to be taken.”
Khosrow Behbehani, chair of the
UT Arlington Bioengineering Department, said Alexandrakis’ collaborative
research sparks the “the kind of innovation that springs from a world-class
The University of Texas at Arlington
is a comprehensive research institution of 33,421 in the heart of North Texas.
For more information, please visit www.uta.edu.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.