Perpetua Muganda, a biology professor at North Carolina A&T State University

North Carolina A&T Professor Serves as Editor of Book on Cell Death Methods in Toxicological Research

Perpetua Muganda, a biology professor at North Carolina A&T State University, has been studying toxicology, or the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms, for almost 18 years. Her latest efforts have culminated in the publication of a new book titled, "Apoptosis Methods in Toxicology."

Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, takes place in every living thing. It is a naturally occurring process in the body that involves a genetically controlled sequence of steps in which cells destroy themselves quietly. It is responsible for the separation of fingers and toes in a developing human embryo, and it is behind the transformations of caterpillars into butterflies.

Acting as both an author and the primary editor of the book, Muganda drew on her expertise in the field of apoptosis and toxicology to outline content, and her strong network to recruit expert authors in the field. The resulting comprehensive methods resource manual includes contributions from 39 authors, including N.C. A&T biology professor Robert Newman and two alumni. Several other N.C. A&T faculty members are advancing research in this area, including professors Checo Rorie and Patrick Martin.

The book, published by Humana Press, is a volume within the prestigious Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology series. It is also part of the well-known Springer Protocols platform. This book provides step-by-step laboratory methods and protocols for accurately measuring apoptosis in toxicological research. It begins with an overview of the most common apoptosis methods, and proceeds by including some of the most recent, advanced and sophisticated apoptosis methods available.

“Research in the life sciences, especially biomedical and bioengineering research, is one of the major growth areas for North Carolina A&T State University and for the state of North Carolina,” said Dr. Barry Burks, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “The efforts of Dr. Muganda, contributors from N.C. A&T, and other partnering scientists to produce this text reflect the quality of our researchers and the extensive network of prominent researchers with which we collaborate.”

Apoptosis is an emerging field of biomedical research due to its role in biological processes, including embryogenesis, aging, and many diseases.

When apoptosis malfunctions, the results may be dire: cancer and autoimmune diseases when there is too little apoptosis, and Parkinson’s or Alzheimer's diseases when there is too much.
Many existing treatments, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and anti-cancer treatments, act through apoptosis, and novel treatments designed to further exploit knowledge of apoptotic mechanisms are currently under development to promote apoptosis of cancer cells.

“One of the newest and most highly advanced techniques outlined in this book involves the use of zebra fish as a model for screening apoptosis targeting drugs in a 96-microwell format. The use of this model minimizes the use of animals for the same purpose,” said Muganda.

Although designed mainly for those working in a lab and the drug industry, Muganda affirms that the book offers “something for everyone” – from the novice to the expert.

“The articles collected in this text embody the data to inform both students and scholars regarding the fundamental implications of apoptosis with a trickle-down effect that can potentially lead to better drug treatments for future generations,” said Burks.