Grants - V Scholar Grants - Ohio - 2021

Maria Mihaylova, PhD

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths worldwide. Alarmingly, recent studies show that its incidence is increasing in younger adults. Certain environmental factors, such as diet, can have an impact on colorectal cancer. Calorie dense, western diets can lead to energy imbalance and excessive weight gain, which is associated with higher risk of colorectal cancer. Since diet is a modifiable risk factor, it is important to understand precisely how diet composition and particular nutrients within the diet can affect colon tumor cells directly and indirectly. We plan to systematically examine how colon cancer cells become dependent on certain nutrients that are necessary for rapid tumor growth and progression. We will also test how relevant dietary nutrients, such as sugars and fats, change the function of support cells found within the tumor and influence tumor growth. Our hope is to identify vulnerabilities in colon cancer cells that we can enhance through nutrition and develop new treatments that will improve survival and quality of life for cancer patients.