STEM Shoutout: Dr. Lina Cui

UNM professor receives funding for work that could help fight cancer

Lina Cui, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, has received a $543,335 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a positron emission tomography or PET imaging probe for heparanase that could help detect aggressive cancer lesions. Heparanase is an enzyme that regulates many cellular processes, and is a major point of study for cancer treatments.

The probe could help with melanoma in particular.

According to the grant abstract, “early melanoma can be overlooked, because harmless moles and early melanoma tumors can look similar under the microscope, which is commonly used by pathologists for melanoma diagnosis. Therefore new diagnostic techniques are highly demanded in the diagnosis of melanoma. Better and earlier diagnosis is particularly needed for individuals who have excessive exposure to the ultraviolet radiation from the sun.”

The research is funded through August of 2020.