Dr. Schmelz is investigating the use of sphingolipids in cancer prevention and the molecular mechanisms of how these lipids prevent colon, breast and ovarian cancer. Her lab also uses cell and animal models to study interactions of inflammation, obesity and cancer.
Sphingolipid metabolites are involved in the regulation of cell growth and death, but some metabolites are actively promoting inflammation, migration, invasion and angiogenesis-- all processes important in chronic diseases and cancer. In our laboratory, we use dietary sphingolipids to prevent cancers of the colon, breast, and ovaries in mouse models. The underlying molecular mechanisms of the preventive effects are investigated in breast, colon, and ovarian cell lines representing early, intermediate, and late stages of the cancer to identify molecular targets that are critical for cancer prevention. We are planning to use these biomarkers in future human trials to confirm treatment efficacy.