This is excellent! You have located a researcher who is studying what you are interested in doing.
This is an abstract describing research to understand molecular basis of cancer therapy. In cancer therapy, it is helpful to promote a strong immune response in the patient to help destroy tumor cells. Here are some basic facts that will help you understand what is going on in this type of study.
T-cells are white blood cells that originate in the thymus gland and are involved in cellular immunity. An immune response to foreign antigens is important to help the body fight infections and cancer/tumors.
Tumor necrosis factor of TNF is a cyotokine or small signaling protein of the immune system that stimulates inflammation and fever in the body and can result in the death of cancer cells. Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response to foreign antigens such as viruses, bacteria, and cancer/tumor cells.
TNFR or tumor necrosis factor receptor is a molecular structure on the surface of cells that, when activated, can cause the stimulation of a wide variety of intracellular biological processes such as apoptosis (cell death). This link includes a basic explanation of TNFR:http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/TNFRSF1A
CD134 OX40 is a member of the TNFR receptor family that is expressed 1-3 days after stimulation by an antigen and helps prevent t-cells from dying, thereby prolonging the immune response to whatever antigen is invading the body. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CD134
CD137 is another member of the TNFR receptor family that is expressed on certain cells and stimulates inflammation to help eliminate tumor cells.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CD137
TCR, or T-cell receptor are proteins that help activate T-cells and stimulates the proliferation of T-cells. This would help increase the immune response to tumors.
OXO agonists are therapeutic agents that increase the production of cytokines. Here is a recent paper on this subject from authors at the Portland Medical Center.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19786544
IL-2 or interleukin-2 is another cytokine or signaling molecule of the immune system that regulates white blood cells and is part of the body’s response to infections and tumors.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interleukin_2
CD8, or Cytotoxic T cells are a type of white blood cell that kills cancer cells and other damages cells, such as those infected with viruses. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytotoxic_T_cell
In this study, the authors used mice with tumors and treated them with a combination of an antibody to OXO and with IL-2. Before therapy, the critical CD8 immune cells were not functioning (anergic), but the combination of therapy stimulated the activity of the CD8 cells increased the survival of the mice.
This research has obvious applications in understanding the immune response to cancer and for human therapy. You need just one experiment for your science project.
Veronica has given you some excellent suggestions for approaching a prospective mentor. The idea for a resume is a very good idea.
Another possibility is to write to one of the researchers in this lab and explain your interest in the study of molecular signaling and cancer research and ask for a meeting so you can ask some additional questions. What questions would you ask about this research that would demonstrate your understanding and interest in this topic?
Do you have any questions about my explanation?