SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – South Plainfield resident, Danielle Caruso, a Middlesex County College student and recipient of a NASA Space Grant Fellowship award, was selected as the student speaker at the Mid-Atlantic Space Grant Directors meeting, Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at Johns Hopkins University’s Mount Washington Conference Center in Baltimore.

Her presentation was titled: “A Look at TLR4 and MyD88 in Glioblastoma Using Immunohistochemistry.”

“I wanted to test for antigens in tissues samples to see if they are present,” Ms. Caruso said. “The tissue samples were taken from patients over 20 years ago who had died from a cancer called Glioblastoma. This cancer is a type of brain cancer, and it forms in the astrocytes (star-like cells that make up supportive tissue) in the brain. The cancer is very aggressive and deadly. The antigens I tested for are called TLR4 (a receptor protein in immune cells) and MyD88 (an adaptor protein in the TLR4 signaling pathway). These proteins work together to get rid of any foreign invaders in your body and they are found in many different other cancers, such as colorectal, esophageal and breast cancer. But when cancer forms, these proteins will promote cancer, preventing your body from becoming healthier.

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“In order to see if TLR4 and MyD88 are in Glioblastoma, I performed a laboratory test called Immunochemistry, which is a technique used to test for antigens using their respective antibodies in samples of tissues. I performed Immunohistochemistry in the JFK Neuroscience Institute lab. My results showed 100 percent of the tissues used had positive results for TLR4 and MyD88 antigens. This means that they do in fact play a role in cancer formation and also immunosupression, which in essence means your immune system is shutting down.”

Ms. Caruso was one of six MCC students who received a $5,000 grant from NASA to perform scientific research with their professors.

She said the experience of making the presentation was “amazing.”

“Everyone seemed attentive and interested in the work I was presenting,” she said. “Although I was nervous, I feel the presentation went quite well and it was an incredible experience that I will remember forever.”

Ms. Caruso plans to attend Rutgers University after she graduates from MCC, and become a cancer researcher.

Established by Congress in 1988 and implemented by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (also known as Space Grant), which funds Ms. Caruso’s Fellowship award, contributes to the nation's science enterprise by funding research, education, and public service projects through a national network of 52 university-based Space Grant consortia.