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Source: Christer Aakeroy, 785-532-6096, aakeroy@k-state.edu;
and Chloe Callahan, chloec@k-state.edu
Photo available. Download at http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/may11/505callahan.jpg
News release prepared by: Kayela Richard, 785-532-2535, media@k-state.edu

Thursday, May 5, 2011

FAMILY INSPIRES WICHITA STUDENT'S RESEARCH FOR MORE CANCER-FIGHTING DRUGS

MANHATTAN -- Chloe Callahan has lost family members and a friend to cancer. The Kansas State University sophomore doesn't want to lose more, so she's taking on the disease in the laboratory.

"Cancer has been a really big deal in my life and it may be something that me or my brother face. I wanted to get involved," said Callahan, who's lost two grandparents and a high school friend to the disease. Her father is a cancer survivor.

Callahan, a chemistry major from Wichita, came to K-State wanting to do medical research and is already accomplishing her goal. She's doing independent research in supramolecular chemistry. She studies a mixture of molecules that look similar to several types of active anticancer drugs. She has pinpointed why and how certain molecules identify and communicate with other molecular partners.

"Chloe combines molecules with suitable molecular partners that are intended to change important physical properties such as solubility and shelf life," said Christer Aakeroy, K-State professor of chemistry. "This is a critical challenge in the whole process of making drugs with controllable and tunable behavior."

One of the biggest issues with new drug compounds is that they're often not soluble in the body, so they can't be used, Callahan said.

"Someone may have come up with a really awesome antitumor compound but it's not suitable for humans because you would be taking a pill the size of a baseball," she said. "By using supramolecular chemistry, I can affect the antitumor compound without changing the molecules so it will not affect the medicinal properties."

Aakeroy said this research could ideally lead to future developments in medicine and it could drastically increase the number of new, effective drugs available.

"Currently about one out of 10,000 compounds prepared by the drug industry makes it from the laboratory to the patient," he said. "We hope to develop methodologies that can improve these odds substantially. It's critical that we continue to perform first-class research that can inform or positively impact people's lives far beyond this campus."

Callahan recently received an undergraduate cancer research award from K-State's Terry C. Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research. She encourages other students who want to do research to get involved.

"Don't be intimidated to try and join a research team," she said. "If you know that you're interested and willing to work, there's someone that you can work with at K-State."

She said she sees further research in her future and would like to make a big impact with it.

"If anything comes out of the research we do, it would be really cool to have K-State on the map as one of the pioneers in the field," Callahan said. "Some things you just can't learn unless you do them."

Callahan is the daughter of Brian and Rebecca Callahan, Wichita, and a graduate of Goddard High School.