ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A team of students at McMurry University is studying breast cancer collagen mutations in hopes that their research may impact disease prevention and treatment.
Over the past four years, Dr. Mallaney O’Connell’s team of undergrad students have been studying the way metastatic breast cancer affects collagen changes in the body when the disease spreads from the primary cancer site to another location.
“Really, if we can start to look at the different mechanisms that start these tumors to move we can start to either stop that movement or catch it much sooner,” said Dr. O’Connell.
The team has traveled across the state to present its findings, most recently presenting in a summit at the Texas Tech Health Sciences center in Abilene with other researchers from local universities.
“It’s been a great experience help build this research environment on campus,” said Dr. O’Connell.
One of the students on her team is McMurry junior Daniel Nunez who begrudgingly wears the pink lab coats his professor purchased for the team.
“Pink is not my favorite color and I don’t think it ever will be. I suck it up though,” said Nunez.
Nunez says investigating cancer as a whole is a personal experience, his father died from stomach cancer before he was born.
“Studying cancer in general has given me a better idea of how it works and how we can combat it. It is an ongoing crisis and anyway we can help benefits the community and the world as a whole,” said Nunez.
And Dr. O’Connell shares the same hope as Nunez, that any research done in the lab she oversees may help others find a cure.
“You know we’re not going to develop some big cancer drug here but we may make an impact that is felt later on,” said Dr. O’Connell.