Kelton Schleyer, a medicinal chemistry graduate student in Dr. Lina Cui’s lab, is one of five health college students to receive a 2020 UF Health Cancer Center, or UFHCC, award. The $10,000 award recognizes and supports outstanding predoctoral candidates conducting innovative cancer research.
Schleyer’s research develops molecular probes to detect and image heparanase, an enzyme upregulated by many types of cancers to grow and spread within the body. His research fills a current gap in tools needed to better understand how heparanase is involved in tumor progression and metastasis. This information will help develop new anticancer drugs or diagnose tumors in patients.
The Cui group has been developing various molecular probes and strategies for the detection and imaging of heparanase activities in test tubes, living cancer cells, animal models, clinical samples and in patients. One of these probes has also been used in the group’s effort to discover new molecules that can block the activity of heparanase.
The UFHCC award will fund the creation of multiple novel heparanase probes that Schleyer has been developing to establish cell and animal models used for probe validation.