Dr. Li-Shu Wang is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin. She received her Ph.D. in Veterinary Biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University in June 2006. Dr. Wang’s work from human clinical trials has been published in high-rank journals in cancer prevention such as Clinical Cancer Research, Carcinogenesis, Cancer Prevention Research, Cancer Immunology Research, Frontiers in Immunology, International Journal of Cancer, etc. Dr. Wang’s expertise is in cancer biology and prevention in animals and humans.
The primary goal of Dr. Wang’s research is to translate the findings from bench to bedside. Using bio-directed fractionation, Dr. Wang showed that the anthocyanins in black raspberries (BRBs) are essential for their chemopreventive effects. She provided evidence that the ellagitannins may be less critical. More importantly, she has evidence that BRBs cause demethylation of tumor suppressor genes in rodents and humans, leading to their enhanced expression in two human clinical trials. The protective effects of BRBs against human and mouse colorectal cancer (CRC) are associated, at least in part, with their hypomethylation activities. Loss of responses to berry treatment in humans may be due to decreased sensitivity to berry-induced DNA demethylation. Further, BRB intervention induces significant metabolic changes and affects energy generating pathways in CRC patients. Recently, Dr. Wang’s laboratory is investigating the mechanisms of active metabolites from BRBs to influence colon and pancreatic cancer immunology through epigenetic modifications. The results from animal models of both cancer types indicate that berries dampen tumor-induced immune suppressive microenvironment by decreasing CD11b+ myeloid cells and boosting CD8+ T-cell and natural killer cells. To translate laboratory findings to clinics, currently, Dr. Wang’s group is investigating the effects of BRBs on DNA methylation in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). This pilot clinical trial aims to evaluate the hypomethylating properties of BRBs in MDS patients after three months of BRB supplementation.