SRyou presenter spotlight: Megan Johnstone and Karolyne Stimpson

Editor’s note: The eighth annual SRyou Student Exposition, an all-day event featuring the work of Salve students, will be held Wednesday, March 21. In the weeks leading up to the exposition, SALVEtoday and the SRyou planning committee will feature a series of presenter spotlights.

Biology majors Megan Johnstone ’20 and Karolyne Stimpson ’19 will present their cancer research, “The Effect of Varying Doses of Gallic Acid on Gene Expression in the Immortal Adenocarcinoma Gastric Cancer Cell Line.”

Cancer is a global health issue affecting the lives of millions of people and is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. More specifically, gastric cancer is currently the fourth most common cancer in the world and treatments for it are nonspecific and invasive. Due to these common and harmful side effects, there is a large need to find alternatives.

Johnstone and Stimpson are researching nutraceuticals, foods containing additional health and medicinal benefits. One nutraceutical in particular, gallic acid, is a phenolic compound found in plants that has been shown to have anti-prolific effects specific to cancer cells.

The purpose of their study was to determine the effect of certain gallic acid concentrations on the expression of particular genes in the immortal adenocarcinoma gastric cancer cell line AGS. Cells were obtained, grown in culture until 80 percent confluent, and treated with gallic acid from blackberries after serum starvation for 48 hours. Cells were treated with 0, 20, and 100μM of gallic acid at the following time points: 0, 3, 6, 12, 18, 24, 36 and 48 hours.

RNA extractions were performed on the samples via a process including phase separation, precipitation and a series of RNA pellet washes followed by resuspension. cDNA was synthesized, diluted and then run through qPCR to evaluate gene expression. Genes associated with cell cycle regulation (P21, Cyclin D1, Cdk4 and Cdk6), apoptosis (Bax, RhoB, and Bcl2), and tumor angiogenesis (MMP9) were investigated.

It was expected that the 100μM dose of gallic acid would have the largest effect on the up regulation and down regulation of these genes. This indicates that gallic acid has anti-cancer properties and could possibly be used for future cancer treatments.


  1. Heather Axen says:

    Good job ladies!

  2. Dawn says:

    Way to go!!!

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