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Novel protein may lead to earlier cancer diagnoses

Mansi Babbar

Third-year student Mansi Babbar is doing her thesis research in Dr. M. Saeed Sheikh’s laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology. She is studying a novel protein that doesn’t yet have a formal name. In the meantime they’re calling it “MB 1” for Mansi Babbar 1.

Mansi’s initial results show that MB1 appears to be linked to cellular metabolism. Her initial results further show that MB1 appears to be deregulated in some tumor samples however, she has to study a large cohort of patient samples. Accordingly, she is doing research to elucidate the exact function of this novel protein and its potential as a tumor marker and therapeutic target.

Mansi studied technology and engineering with biotechnology as major at Kurukshetra University in India, and wanted to conduct cancer research when she came to Upstate in 2011. Her goal is to help physicians diagnose cancer earlier, so that treatment can begin sooner rather than later.

“It’s hard for practitioners to decide if it’s cancer or something else,” Mansi said. “That’s why we want to make it easier for them to be more confident in their diagnosis.”

She is particularly interested in breast cancer and melanoma. Melanoma is a complex disease and has fewer markers, Mansi said.

“We’re setting up a base for a novel protein, hopefully a newer pathway via which it functions,” Mansi said. “Future students can work on this for years.”

She spends many daytime and evening hours in the lab to make that happen, often checking experiments every four hours.

“In this type of research, that’s how you live,” Mansi said. “It’s part of your life. It’s not a 9-to-5 lab.”