Ontario Agriculture College
Department of Food Science
Dr. Spagnuolo’s research is focused towards investigating the anti-cancer effects of food-derived bioactive compounds, specifically nutraceuticals that target and destroy leukemia and leukemia stem cells. These compounds are then utilized as molecular probes to further investigate the pathways that control cancer cell survival and death. Overall research objectives are to identify new anti-cancer neutraceutical compounds and determine their regulation in apoptosis and other forms of cell death.
Nutraceuticals (i.e., food-derived bioactive compounds) are consumed by almost 75 per cent of Canadians and it is important for research to catch up to the popularity of these compounds. In my lab, we take a systematic and rigorous approach to evaluate their therapeutic potential with the overall goal of translating this knowledge to improve the lives of Canadians.
Our lab particularly focuses on understanding the cell and molecular mechanisms by which nutraceuticals impart their anti-cancer activity. We utilize a multidisciplinary approach to define the molecular target of our novel anti-cancer nutraceutical and apply state-of-the-art techniques (i.e., high-resolution respirometry, flow cytometry) to characterize their pre-clinical efficacy. In short, we are using the well-validated drug discovery platform employed by the pharmaceutical industry and applying it to the nutraceutical research field. Current projects include collaborations with colleagues in Toronto (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre; CCRM); Kitchener (Grand River Cancer Centre); Japan (Juntendo University), Guelph (University of Guelph), and Waterloo (University of Waterloo).
Recent publications relating to regenerative medicine (2012-present):
- Tcheng M, Samudio I, Lee EA, Minden MD, Spagnuolo PA. The mitochondria target drug avocatin B synergizes with induction chemotherapeutics to induce leukemia cell death. Leuk Lymphoma. 2017 Apr;58(4):986-988
- Lee EA, Angka L, Rota SG, Hanlon T, Mitchell A, Hurren R, Wang XM, Gronda M, Boyaci E, Bojko B, Minden M, Sriskanthadevan S, Datti A, Wrana JL, Edginton A, Pawliszyn J, Joseph JW, Quadrilatero J, Schimmer AD, Spagnuolo PA. Targeting Mitochondria with Avocatin B Induces Selective Leukemia Cell Death. Cancer Res. 2015 Jun 15;75(12):2478-88.
- Angka L, Lee EA, Rota SG, Hanlon T, Sukhai M, Minden M, McMillan EM, Quadrilatero J, Spagnuolo PA. Glucopsychosine increases cytosolic calcium to induce calpain-mediated apoptosis of acute myeloid leukemia cells. Cancer Lett. 2014 Jun 28;348(1-2):29-37.
- Spagnuolo PA, Hurren R, Gronda M, MacLean N, Datti A, Basheer A, Lin FH, Wang X, Wrana J, Schimmer AD. Inhibition of intracellular dipeptidyl peptidases 8 and 9 enhances parthenolide's anti-leukemic activity. Leukemia. 2013 Jun;27(6):1236-44.