Pharmacy researcher fights skin cancer with Zzzs

SPOKANE, Wash. – Sleep’s influence on skin cancer and on the effectiveness of anti-cancer treatments is under study by a new researcher in the Washington State University College of Pharmacy.

Circadian rhythms that influence sleep regulate the expression levels of as many as 10 percent of human genes, said assistant professor Shobhan Gaddameedhi. He is researching whether maintaining a healthy sleep schedule will increase genomic stability, thus decreasing mutations as a result of ultraviolet radiation from sunlight exposure like those that result in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

He also is studying whether anti-cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy can be made more effective by timing them to cellular sensitivity – in normal and/or malignant tissues – influenced by circadian rhythms.

The circadian clock is the molecular time-keeping system that maintains daily rhythms in physiological and biochemical processes of an organism.

“It has been demonstrated that drug administration during certain cycles of circadian rhythms leads to improved efficacy,” said K. Michael Gibson, Gaddameedhi’s department chair. “His research holds promise to revolutionize our approach to cancer therapeutics.”

“Having outstanding pharmacy faculty members and availability of the WSU Center for Sleep and Performance Research Center is a great opportunity to translate basic findings of the circadian clock and chemotherapy into the clinical level,” said Gaddameedhi.