Today is Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019

Department of

Cancer Biology - Diao Laboratory

Three grad-student smiling

Our Research Focus

Membrane Biophysics (Single-vesicle study of SNARE-mediated membrane fusion)

Single-molecule analysis of protein conformational change in membrane environment (membrane property change induced by protein)

Nanotechnology (nanoparticle structures for biomedical detection)

A main area of research is studying the physiological function of alpha-synuclein, a protein, and the damage it causes when there are mutations, or misfolds, in it. Findings from the interruptions in signaling from the protein’s synapse, a structure that allows a nerve cell to pass an electrical or chemical signal, to the nucleus plays a major role in the development of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Another research focus is the development of a single-molecule technology to help with earlier detection of cancer. This technology has the ability to look closely at the cells and components of DNA and find epigenetic modifications that could lead to the development of cancer. The molecules in DNA are labeled via a chemical process involving fluorescence and then each molecule is looked at to determine the modifications within them that could cause cancer development. Currently, samples from brain, lung, and breast cancer patients are being collected to specifically examine modifications in the DNA of these cancer types. Eventually, this technology may be used to look for modifications in RNA molecules.

Other research projects involve the detection of antigens on cancer cells and the use of antibody-based drugs as therapies, and more specifically the use of a nano-based technology to detect specific cancer antigens.

Bioengineering:
  1. Nanoparticle structures for biomedical detection.
Biomedicine:
  1. Physiological roles of proteins related to neurodegeneration.
  2. Epigenetic modifications of cell-free DNAs.
Biophysics:
  1. Single-vesicle study of SNARE-mediated membrane fusion.
  2. Single-molecule analysis of membrane/protein dynamics.
  3. Single-particle detection of protein oligomerization.
  4. Membrane dynamics involved in autophagy.
  5. Advanced single-molecule technique.
  6. Molecular dynamics simulation of biomembrane.