Hello! My name is Katelyn Cousteils and I’m an MSc student in the Department of Biochemistry at Western University. I work at London Health Sciences Centre’s London Regional Cancer Program under the supervision of Dr. Eva Turley.
Dr. Turley’s lab looks at the role of the sugar hyaluronan and its receptor proteins RHAMM and CD44 in various cancers including breast cancer. Particular interest is in the tumour microenvironment and its role in invasion and metastasis, as well as wound healing, which most relates to my project.
Radiation is the predominant treatment of breast cancer, but it can lead to a hardening of the breast tissue, called fibrosis. This is a problem for breast cancer survivors not only because it is painful and makes the breast difficult to reconstruct, but these fibrotic areas are a good environment for the cancer to occur again.
Previous work in our lab has found that coating skin cells with the sugar promotes skin renewal, which is a key factor in limiting the chronic inflammation that can lead to fibrosis. I’m working on developing the reagents for a more efficient coating of skin cells.
We hope that this reagent (in the form of a topical cream) will reduce the amount of pain and discomfort breast cancer survivors experience after undergoing radiation treatment, and that it will potentially reduce rates of cancer recurrence in breast tissue.
Thank you to BCSC for your trainee support!
– Katelyn Cousteils, student researcher
Pamela Greenaway-Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit, London Health Sciences Centre