Paclitaxel Drug Research November 2, 2021
Teighlor Livingston (MS/BS ‘22)
Research at PCOM South Georgia focuses on developing more effective ways to prevent and treat disease. The College
encourages partnerships between students, faculty, healthcare providers and community
members to improve patient outcomes.
Biomedical sciences student Teighlor Livingston (MS/BS ‘22) shares why she is interested in research
and explains her work on using vaporization to eliminate the toxicity of paclitaxel,
a drug used in lung cancer treatment.
What do you study?
My research involves the development of novel bioactive cancer drugs utilizing the
natural chemotherapeutic agent paclitaxel. The drug, marketed under the trade name
Taxol, utilizes a drug delivery vehicle (Cremophor EL) that is necessary for clinical
use but also very toxic for patients. I have been working to develop paclitaxel drug
formulations void of Cremophor EL that utilize cellular nutrients to accelerate the
cancer’s metabolic process and drive the drug into the tumor cells. I am also working
on a novel inhalation method to target lung cancer directly and avoid the side effects
associated with systemic therapies. The drugs are designed specifically with this
in mind by generation of nanoparticles that can penetrate deep within the lungs.
What prompted you to pursue research?
I was always interested in doing research and began doing so during my undergraduate
education. With my goal of becoming a physician in mind, I believed being involved in research would make me a more well-rounded
individual through the development of skills such as problem-solving and critical
thinking. With my project, I have been fortunate to be able to see both sides of medicine:
the development aspect as well as the treatment.
What experience do you have conducting research?
I have been involved with this research at Valdosta State University since 2019. Since
working on this project, I have developed two novel paclitaxel complexes. These drugs
have gone through preclinical testing with the National Cancer Institute and have
shown comparable results to Taxol. I have been able to present my research at a research
conference and intend on presenting at additional conferences throughout 2022. I have
also been involved in the National Science Foundation Innovation-Corps Program that
has allowed researchers to explore the commercial potential of their product through
speaking with experts in the field. I completed the regional level program, which
involved a total of 20 interviews with experts in the cancer field. I have recently
applied to the national level program to further explore the value of the innovation.
What are your responsibilities in this research project?
My responsibilities have included lab development and analytical testing of the paclitaxel
compounds, as well as testing involving a medical-grade vaporizer to ensure proper
vaporization of the drug formulations. I am the lead student involved in this research
and frequently demonstrate these processes to undergraduate students who are interested
in the project.
What is the broader impact of your research?
As society progresses, the yearly number of cancer cases continues to rise. Cancers,
especially of the lung, can have devastating outcomes on patients and their families.
My research helps to bring awareness to the impact of lung cancer, as well as encourage
researchers to explore the improvement of other available drugs to create a better
experience for patients.
How does your research affect healthcare/health professions?
Lung cancer has an 80% mortality rate and causes more deaths than any other cancer
type. The main purpose of my research is to make the experience of cancer treatment
better for patients by improving their therapy outcomes. Although the drug formulation
itself eliminates the toxicity associated with Cremophor EL, the drug is also utilized
through inhalation—targeting the cancer site directly and avoiding systemic effects
of the drug. The direct application of the drug to the tumor site allows for the usage
of lower doses, further decreasing the incidence of side effects.
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About PCOM South Georgia
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) extended its commitment to the
Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia, an additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia. PCOM South Georgia offers both
a full, four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)
degree and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit
institution which trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields.
Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state,
PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the South Georgia region. The
medical campus, which welcomed its inaugural class of medical students in August 2019,
has received accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association's Commission
on Osteopathic College Accreditation. For more information, visit pcom.edu/southgeorgia or call 229-668-3110.
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