Dr. Saroj Kumar 

Scientists have identified, for the first time, increased levels of several chemicals occurring in cancer-activated cells, which will help them understand what is happening in early stage cancer.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Canadian women.

Dr. Saroj Kumar, a former University of Saskatchewan researcher, currently at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, led a research team interested in understanding breast cancer metastasis, or how breast cancer spreads.

His focus is on fibroblasts, which are considered to play an important role in cancer progression; however, how exactly they are involved is poorly understood.

“Fibroblasts are one of several key components in cancer metastasis,” says Kumar. Kumar’s team looks at the influence of cancer cells on fibroblasts and what role these fibroblasts play in cancer progression. Fibroblasts are present in the extracellular matrix, which surrounds cells and provides structural and biochemical support.

X-ray fluorescence imaging (XFI) elemental mapping of cancer stimulated (SF, upper panel) and normal (NF, lower panel) fibroblast.

Kumar’s team used several techniques at the Canadian Light Source and became the first group to localize and identify increased levels of phosphorous, sulfur, potassium, and calcium in cancer-associated fibroblasts. Increased levels of these elements may affect cellular activities connected to breast cancer progression.

Using infrared imaging at the CLS, the team also identified a new infrared marker for oxidative stress in cancer-associated fibroblasts, which may be linked to tumour progression in the early stages of cancer.

In order to prevent malignant cancer growth, early diagnosis and treatment is important. These new results shed light on chemical changes within fibroblasts that may be used as a marker to detect early stage cancer and can help to reduce the number of women who die from breast cancer.

Kumar, Saroj, Xia Liu, Ferenc Borondics, Qunfeng Xiao, Renfei Feng, Erik Goormaghtigh, and Fredrik Nikolajeff. "Insights into Biochemical Alteration in Cancer?Associated Fibroblasts by using Novel Correlative Spectroscopy." ChemistryOpen (2017). DOI: 10.1002/open.201600102

Story by Mylyne Tham 

The Canadian Light Source is a national research facility, one of the largest science projects in our country’s history, producing the brightest light in Canada—millions of times brighter than even the sun—used by more than 1,000 scientists from around the world every year in ground-breaking health, environmental, materials, and agricultural research.

Dr. Kumar now lives and works in New Dehli. He is available for interviews between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Central Time. However, we will need to contact him via email first to set this up. To arrange to speak to Dr. Kumar, please contact:

Lana Haight, communications coordinator


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