Seminar Series: extrachromosomal DNA and the metabolic circuits of cancer immune suppression

| Written by Scott LaFee
A scanning electron micrograph depicts DNA circles surround X-shaped chromosomes in this colorectal cancer cell. The image is part of the first visual evidence that ecDNA is circular. Image courtesy of Paul Mischel, UC San Diego.
Above: A scanning electron micrograph depicts DNA circles surround X-shaped chromosomes in this colorectal cancer cell. The image is part of the first visual evidence that ecDNA is circular. Image courtesy of Paul Mischel, UC San Diego.

The ongoing Sanford Burnham Prebys seminar series will feature a pair of speakers on March 27, from noon to 1p.m., in the Fishman Auditorium. They will be presenting on two topics: extrachromosomal DNA and the tumor microenvironment.

First, Owen Chapman, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research scientist in the lab of Lukas Chavez, Ph.D., will discuss clinical and genomic features of circular extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) in medulloblastomas, a type of brain tumor.

EcDNA is DNA found off chromosomes, either inside or outside the nucleus of a cell. In a study published last year, Chavez (senior author), Chapman (first author) and colleagues reported that patients with medulloblastomas containing ecDNA are twice as likely to relapse after treatment and three times as likely to die within five years of diagnosis.

The second presentation will be by Kevin Tharp, Ph.D. assistant professor in the Cancer Metabolism and Microenvironment Program. Tharp, who joined Sanford Burnham Prebys in December 2023, studies how tumors manipulate their mitochondria to improve survivability and how those cellular mechanics can be leveraged to create more effective therapies.

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