Ernesto Abel-Santos

Dr. Abel-Santos is interested in research that combines the areas of organic chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology. The Abel-Santos laboratory is currently applying enzymology approaches to the process of Bacillus spore germination. Due to its potential as a bioterrorism weapon, new methods to control B. anthracis (a.k.a ANTHRAX) infections are needed. B. anthracis spores are resistant to most type of antiseptic and antibiotic treatments. Although anthrax spores are resilient, they have to “taste” their environment to determine when conditions are right to germinate (e.g. your lungs) Using the information gathered from the kinetic models, we have developed nucleoside inhibitors against anthrax spore germination. These compounds have proven to be effective in protecting macrophage form anthrax-mediated killing.

Ronald Pardini

One of the most exciting projects in our laboratory is the investigation of the role of nutritional intervention in cancer therapy. We are demonstrating that different types and levels of dietary fat can slow tumor growth rates, increase tumor responsiveness to therapy, lower drug-host toxicity of certain anticancer agents, and reduce cachexia- the wasting syndrome associated with cancer victims. This research is working toward a nutritional-intervention clinical trial designed to improve the outcome of chemotherapy and patient well-being.  Our laboratory is also investigating the induction of oxidative stress by various chemicals in insects and cancer. More specifically we are investigating the biochemistry and molecular biology of antioxidant systems of insects and tumor cells in order to predict mechanisms of insect resistance to plant allelochemicals and other foreign chemicals. In addition, we are investigating the mechanisms of tumor cell resistance to pro-oxidant anti-cancer agents.  These projects have potential for the selective destruction of insect pests and the selective survival of specific plant species. We are utilizing our insect model system to predict oxidative stress from various xcuobiotics including environmental pollutants. In addition, this approach would predict a tumor cell’s sensitivity or resistance to pro-oxidant anti-tumor agents.