A group of motivated BCOM students recently completed a research paper which they have submitted to a scientific journal, marking BCOM’s first manuscript submission for publication. While not unheard of, it is rare for first year medical students, particularly at a new school, to have their research published.
Under the advisory of Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Samuel Kadavakollu, Ph.D., BCOM students Robert W. Lyday, Abigail M. Etters, Chris Kim, Fernando Magana, and Gabriel M. Pontipiedra, produced the paper titled “PDE5 Inhibitors Offer Novel Mechanisms in Cancer Therapy.”
Naveen K.M. Singh from the Department of Pharmacology & Radiation Oncology at the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center in Dallas, Texas also contributed to the paper.
“We started researching various drugs and their off label mechanisms of action and we decided that PDE5 inhibitors showed a lot of promise as anti-tumor agents,” said Lyday. “When we dug into the literature, we found several recent studies that demonstrated its use against cancer.”
The students say they divided the research portion of the project and came together to complete the text. “We reviewed a plethora of papers written on PDE5 inhibitors in recent years and collaborated to write a summary on how these drugs do what they do, and specifically the mechanisms that apply to cancer treatment,” Etters explained.
This project fulfills the research requirement that all BCOM medical students are required to complete. Etters, who did her undergrad thesis on treating breast cancer with green tea compounds and spent a summer doing research at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, said it was Dr. Kadavakollu’s encouragement that sparked the team to complete the project early. “Dr. K motivated us to do all the work on our own and he was very clear on how much effort would have to be put in from the start,” she said. “He helped us figure out where to start and also with the editing process.”
In short, the students conclude in the paper that “PDE5 inhibitors offer new opportunities for cancer therapeutics due to promising study results, demonstrated via multiple mechanisms.” The manuscript is currently under review for publication in the medical journal, Current Cancer Therapy Reviews which “publishes frontier reviews, original research articles, drug clinical trial studies and guest edited thematic issues on all the latest advances in clinical oncology, cancer therapy and pharmacology. The journal’s aim is to publish the highest quality review articles dedicated to clinical research in the field. The journal is essential reading for all researchers and clinicians in cancer therapy.”
Lyday said that, while it was challenging to find the time to complete the paper in conjunction with their first semester of studies, working in a group and having an involved mentor like Dr. Kadavakollu helped the process go as smoothly as possible. He said he’s taking away from the experience an appreciation of “the importance of translational research to physicians and researchers.”
Lyday added that “this paper includes interdisciplinary approaches and applies not only to oncology, but other fields of medicine. As first year students, we don’t know what field of medicine we will end up in, but having a career-long interest in research is always beneficial to any future physician.”