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Campus News / News

RU professor to give research seminar at U of I at Chicago

02/03/2017 10:12 am

Rockford University Associate Professor of Biology Troy Skwor, Ph.D., will present a seminar on the use of light to kill cancer cells and antibiotic-resistant bacteria Monday, Feb. 6, at a leading research university in Chicago.

University of Illinois at Chicago will host “Photodynamic therapy: Targeting multi-drug resistant bacteria and cancer with metalloporphyrins and portable LEDs” on Feb. 6 during its Pathology Grand Rounds from 11 a.m. to noon at the College of Medicine East Tower, room 268. The findings are based on Skwor’s ongoing research in Rockford University labs in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Matthew Bork, Ph.D., undergraduate student Hailey Avery, and alumni Stephanie Klemm ’16, Brandon Leviskas ’15, Brianna Schardt ’14, and Stephanie Blaszczyk ’13.

Skwor’s presentation will highlight the use of a novel chemical, also known as a photosensitizer, that gets excited in the presence of blue light. During this excited state, it produces reactive oxygen species or byproducts that result in killing bacteria and cancer cells.

Skwor’s team was able to kill 100 million methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria within 44 seconds with antibiotics using the light and chemical. The group’s findings were published in October 2016 in the “Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, B: Biology,” a noted, peer-reviewed research journal.

“This technology would have minimal side effects and help to provide an alternative treatment against the growing epidemic of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” said Skwor.

Most recently, Skwor has been collaborating with U of I at Chicago Research Associate Professor Klara Valyi-Nagy, M.D., on the potential of using photodynamic therapy for treating uveal melanoma. He says the light and photosensitizer killed a variety of cancer cells grown in Rockford University labs, including eye, prostate and skin melanoma cells.

“The clinical application, if it works, will be localized and have minimal side effects compared to chemotherapy or surgical removal,” said Skwor. “Skin cancer cases have doubled in the USA in the past 30 years, so this epidemic needs new methods that kill the cells and are cosmetically less impairing.”