Cancer Research

Lab Location: MM 330A


According to the American Society of Cancer, in 2019-20, an estimated 268,600 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed. Of these 2,670 will be in men. Approximately 41,760 women and 500 men are expected to die from breast cancer. Metastatic cancer and its associated complications continue to contribute to the high mortality rates. Advanced detection, management, treatment and rehabilitation approaches have dramatically improved life expectancy however, early detection is key in managing the disease. In recent years focus has shifted to the nutritional contribution in cancer development and the mechanical cues that drive cancer cell adhesion, cell-cell interaction, proliferation and migration. The microenvironmental changes that affect cancer growth have the potential to improve cancer treatment, care and rehabilitation. In our work, we have identified specific nanofiber scaffolds preferred by certain sub-populations of cancer cells and unique metabolic activity between cells in suspension, traditional 2D cultures and on 3D nanofiber scaffolds. Our focus is on developing unique tools to observe and study cell behavior to gain an insight into the mechanisms that drive metastasis.

Related literary works


  • "Engineered three-dimensional scaffolds modulating fate of breast cancer cells using stiffness and morphology related cell adhesion," Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao, Carolynn Que, Brennan Vogl, Smitha Rao, Preprint available,
  • "Preferential Binding of Cancer Cells to Sugar-enriched Nanofiber Scaffolds," Brennan Vogl, Carolynn Que, Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao, Marina Tanasova, Smitha Rao, NCUR 2020, Mar 26-28, Montana State University, Montana, USA. Poster presentation
  • 2019
  • "Electrospun acellular scaffolds for mimicking the natural anisotropy of the extracellular matrix" Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao, Nastaran Alinezhadbalalami, Srinivas Kannan, Meghan Friske and Smitha Rao, RSC Advances, 9, 40190-40195, 2019. DOI: 10.1039/C9RA07777D
  • “Multi-functional electrospun nanofibers from polymer blends for scaffold tissue engineering,” Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao, Smitha Rao, Special issue Fibers: Electrospun Fibers for Scaffold and Electrical Sensing (Review Article), Vol. 7, Iss. 7, 66, 2019.
  • “Self-Assembly of 3D Nanostructures in Electrospun Polycaprolactone-Polyaniline Fibers and their Application as Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering,” Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao, Carolynn Que, Smitha Rao, Materialia, Vol. 6, 100296, 2019.
  • “Fructose Analog Containing 3-D Scaffolds to Isolate and Study Breast Cancer Cell Metabolism by Mimicking Tumor Microenvironment” Carolynn Que, Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao, Emily Nelson, Marina Tanasova, Smitha Rao, Sixth Annual Meeting of Michigan Physiological Society, June 27-28, Mount Pleasant, MI, 2019. Poster presentation
  • “Fructose analog containing 3-D scaffolds to isolate and study breast cancer cell metabolism by mimicking tumor microenvironment,” Carolynn Que, Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao, Stephanie Bule, Emily Nelson, Kristine Fink, Marina Tanasova, Smitha Rao, 50th ACS Central Regional Meeting (CERM), June 4-8, Midland, MI, 2019. Oral presentation
  • “Isolation and study of metabolic cues in breast cancer using fructose analog containing 3D scaffolds as controllable microenvironments ,” Carolynn Que, Srinivas Kannan, Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao, Ryan Bancroft, Kristine Fink, Marina Tanasova, Smitha Rao, ACS Upper Peninsula Local Section Student Research Symposium, March 23, 2019. Poster presentation
  • Altmetric score 69: “Multicolor GLUT5-permeable fluorescent probes for fructose transport analysis,” Vagarshak. V. Begoyan, Łukasz. J. Weseliński, Shuai Xia, Joseph Fedie, S. Kannan, Alexis Ferrier, Smitha Rao, Marina Tanasova, Chemical Communications, 2018; 54 (31): 3855 DOI: 10.1039/c7cc09809j
  • Altmetric score 72: “Metabolism-Driven High-Throughput Cancer Identification with GLUT5-Specific Molecular Probes,” Srinivas Kannan, Vagarshak Begoyan, Joseph Fedie, Shuai Xia, Łukasz Weseliński, Marina Tanasova, Smitha Rao, Biosensors, 2018; 8 (2): 39 DOI: 10.3390/bios8020039
  • “Real-Time Monitoring of Fructose Uptake Modulation Outcomes in Breast Cancer Cell,” Avik Ghosh, Vagarshak Begoyan, Smitha Rao, Marina Tanasova, San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, San Antonio, TX, December 4-8, 2018. (Poster)
  • “Fructose Analog Containing 3D Scaffolds as Controllable Microenvironments to Isolate and Study Metabolic Cues in Breast Cancer,” Srinivas Kannan, Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao, Kristine Fink, Carolynn Que, Marina Tanasova, Smitha Rao, Annual Meeting of BMES 2018, Atlanta, GA, Oct 17-20, 2018. (Poster with extended abstract).
  • “Fructose Uptake-based Rapid Detection of Breast Cancer Cells,” Joseph Fedie, Srinivas Kannan, Shuai Xia, Marina Tanasova, Smitha Rao, IEEE LSC 2017, Sydney, Australia, Dec 13-15, 2017. Published in Proc. IEEE LSC 2017. DOI: 10.1109/LSC.2017.8268168
  • “GLUT5 Targeting Fluorescent Probes for Cancer Detection,” Srinivas Kannan, Vagarshak. V. Begoyan, Shuai Xia, Suhel Shaikh, Brennan Vogl, S. Rao, Marina Tanasova, Annual Meeting of BMES 2017, Phoenix, AZ, October 11-14, 2017. (Poster with extended abstract)