Michelle Farkas

Assistant Professor of Chemistry, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Email: farkas@chem.umass.edu
M. Farkas Chemistry Dept Web Site

Ph.D.: California Institute of Technology
Postdoctoral Training: University of California, Berkeley

Development and Application of Chemical Biology Methods for the Study of Cancer Progression and Metastasis

Research in the Farkas group will involve the development and use of molecular tools in order to further understand, image, and treat cancer subtypes. Significant advances have been made in understanding and treating cancer. However, metastasis remains one of the principal causes of death for inflicted patients. Our work will occur at the interface of chemistry and cancer biology, and will span multiple disciplines, using synthetic chemistry, cell biology, and molecular imaging techniques.

We will take three approaches to understanding cancer progression and metastasis. In the first, we will correlate cancer aggression with altered circadian rhythms. By using small molecule and extra-cellular means to suppress or promote metastasis or perturb cellular circadian rhythms, we will probe the relationship between the two. Another project involves the direct chemical modification of tumor-associated macrophages in order to generate imaging agents for studying tumor microenvironments, the roles of macrophages in metastasis, and conversion of macrophages from tumor-promoting phenotypes to tumor-fighting ones. In our last endeavor, we will generate spherical nucleic acids based on nanoparticles and microRNAs, which have been shown to either suppress or enhance cancer aggression and metastasis in order to further study their roles and generate agents to deliver anti-cancer microRNAs and trap pro-oncogenic ones.

Representative publications:

Farkas, M.E., Aanei, A.L., Behrens, C.R., Tong, G.J., Murphy, S.T., O'Neil, J.P., Francis, M.B. "PET Imaging and Biodistribution of Chemically Modified Bacteriophage MS2."Mol. Pharm. 2013. 10, 69-76.

Carrico, Z. M.*, Farkas, M. E.*, Yu, Z., Hsiao, S. C., Marks, J. D., Chokhawala, H., Clark, D. S., Francis, M. B. “N-Terminal Labeling of Filamentous Phage to Create Cancer Marker Imaging Agents.” ACS Nano. 2012. 6, 6675-6680.
*Joint first-authorship

Farkas, M. E., Li, B. C., Dose, C., Dervan, Peter B. “DNA Sequence Selectivity of Hairpin Polyamide Turn Units.” Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 2009, 19, 3919-3923.

Dose, C., Farkas, M. E., Chenoweth, D. M., Dervan, P. B. “Next Generation Hairpin Polyamides with (R)-3,4-Diaminobutyric Acid Turn Unit.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 6859-6866.

Chou, C. J., Farkas, M. E., Tsai, S. M., Alvarez, D. A., Dervan, P. B., Gottesfeld, J. M. “Small Molecules Targeting Histone H4 as Potential Therapeutics for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia.” Mol. Cancer. Ther. 2008, 7, 769-778.

Nickols, N. G., Jacobs, C. S., Farkas, M. E., Dervan, P. B. “Modulating Hypoxia-Inducible Transcription by Disrupting the HIF-1-DNA Interface.” ACS Chem. Biol. 2007, 2, 561-571.

Farkas, M. E., Tsai, S. M., Dervan, P. B. “α -Diaminobutyric Acid-Linked Hairpin Polyamides.” Bioorg. Med. Chem. 2007, 15, 6927-6936.