Masters student from the Department of Physiology, Charlise Basson, won first place for Best Oral Presentation in the light microscopy category during the International African Inclusive Microscopy Symposium (AfInMic) - Student Microscopy Symposium 2021, which was hosted on 29 November - 3 December 2021 by the Microscopy Society of Southern Africa (MSSA).
The enthusiastic and conscientious young scientist and her supervisors, Dr Yvette Hlophe, Dr June Serem and Dr Priyesh Bipath, are currently investigating the in vitro effects of the chemokine receptor four antagonist CTCE-9908 and kynurenine metabolites on tumour adhesion in melanoma cells. Although melanoma is a rare type of cancer, accounting for less than 5% of all skin cancers, it is amongst the deadliest as it accounts for 75% of skin cancer mortality. The metastatic behaviour of melanoma has accentuated the need for specific therapeutic targets to inhibit metastasis. The assessment of these compounds, individually and in combination with each other, may contribute to knowledge on cell-cell or cell-extracellular matrix interactions and downstream signalling molecules that impact melanoma cell adhesion, a metastatic parameter. Metastasis remains a major challenge in treatment and is usually the primary cause of morbidity and mortality in cancer patients, accounting for 90% of cancer-related deaths. This study may add to the current knowledge to manage the local and international cancer burden.
For the same project, Charlise has received a special mention at a recent combined meeting of the African Association of Physiological Sciences (AAPS), and the Physiological Society of Southern Africa (PSSA) held from the 12-15 September 2021. Charlise shared: “Receiving these awards is an incredible honour and privilege. The unwavering support of my supervisors and family leaves me overwhelmed with sincere gratitude.”
According to her supervisor, Dr Yvette Hlophe, lecturer in the Physiology Department, is proud of Charlise’s achievements at the AAPS and the AfInMic conferences. “Charlise’s project has informed us that L-kynurenine is the most effective kynurenine metabolite to inhibit melanoma proliferation. We look forward to the additional findings on the effects of the chemokine receptor-4 antagonist and L-kynurenine, individually and in combination in B-16F10 melanoma adhesion,” said Dr Hlophe.
Charlise also holds a BSc in Physiology and Psychology and an Honours in Cardiovascular Physiology. She always tries to live by the adaption of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children; to appreciate beauty; to find the beauty in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded."
Charlise is intrigued by the development of diseases and aims to find ways to manage, alleviate and eradicate these diseases and has a strong intrinsic desire to not only promote global health through innovative solutions and problem-solving but to also improve the quality of life for people globally. “My long-term goal is to contribute to the advancement of healthcare-related knowledge and research throughout my scientific career and I hope to educate future generations on these topics” she added.