U of S study proves promising in fight against cancer

A University of Saskatchewan (U of S) student is working towards a more effective way to fight oral cancer.

Fourth-year College of Dentistry student Dania Alkhani's award-winning research project could lead to a breakthrough in finding a less invasive and more efficient treatment.

"We're getting there," said Alkhani, a fourth-year student in the College of Dentistry. "We've synthesized a compound that looks promising."

Combining her background in medicinal chemistry with her ongoing education in dentistry, Alkhani set out to find a better way to kill oral cancer cells as she began a two-year research project that is mandatory for all U of S dentistry students. Her goal was to find a method that did not involve invasive surgery or radiation therapy and with the help of her supervisor Jonathan Dimmock, professor emeritus in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, Alkhani began formulating a project based on existing compounds and research.

"One compound we synthesized was very potent," she explained. "It is 10 times more effective at killing some cancer cells than an anti-cancer drug currently used."

While there are a number of steps to be undertaken and more criteria to be met before clinical trials can begin, there is hope that the research may one day lead to a superior new drug treatment for oral cancer.

Alkhani's promising research placed first in the provincial competition and then beat out student research projects from the nine other dental schools in Canada when she won the national competition held by the Canadian Dental Association at the end of August—the second year in a row that the U of S has taken top spot. With a first-place finish, Alkhani won a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the American Dental Association's 2015 conference, where she will present her cutting-edge research.


For more information, contact:
James Shewaga
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan

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