Adrian A. Franke, PhD

Adrian A. Franke, PhD

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Shared Resource Director, Analytical Biochemistry Shared Resource, University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center
Full Member, Cancer Biology Program, University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center

Academic Appointment(s):
Professor(Specialist), University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center
Graduate Program Faculty, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

PhD, Pharmacy - Natural Products Chemistry, University of Freiburg, Germany

Research Focus

Intake of plant foods has been implicated in the risk reduction of chronic diseases including cancer. The identification of the phytochemicals responsible for this effect is therefore of vital interest. My research centers on the development of biomarkers reflecting exposure to vegetarian foods, on the pharmacokinetics of chemopreventive micronutrients, and on the development of state-of-the-art analytical techniques to determine metabolites in biological matrices. A central role in this respect plays the determination of food phytochemicals, steroids, lipid components, and generally metabolites from body fluids and particularly, from tissues where pharmacodynamic events happen. Early in my career, my research focused primarily on the metabolism, bioavailability and biological effects of soy components and their relationship to breast and prostate cancer prevention. This served as a gateway to biomarker identification and most recently to biomarker applications relating to disease risk assessment. The latter materialized being a co-leader of the completed project entitled "The Betel Nut Intervention Trial (BENIT)" which was funded by the NCI within a U54 grant. This project built upon the earlier study entitled "Identification of Salivary Biomarkers for Betel Nut Consumption", also within the U54 grant, for which I directed as UH Cancer Center project leader. The BENIT also benefited from my past U54 funded project entitled "Identification and Application of Improved Biomarkers reflecting Betel Consumption" which established Areca alkaloids to be reliable biomarkers for betel nut consumption. My currently funded U54 project entitled “Cross-Sectional Analysis of Areca Alkaloids in Buccal Cells and Hair from Areca Nut Chewers as Candidate Biomarkers for Short- and Long-Term Areca Nut Exposure” aims to determine algorithms that will determine the extent of betel nut chewing by using Areca alkaloid concentrations in buccal cells and scalp hair. This will be most useful to have available for betel nut cessation efforts planned in future projects.

In addition, I direct the Analytical Biochemistry Shared Resource that provides services for UH Cancer Center members regarding quantitation of biochemicals including but not limited to a wide array of clinical markers (calcium, lipoproteins, CRP, glucose, lipid profiles, etc.) and specific analyte groups including, steroids, particularly estrogen metabolites, phospholipids, choline and its metabolites (TMAO) but also xenobiotics and pollutants including their metabolites (bisphenol A, array of phthalate metabolites, glyphosate including its main metabolite aminomethyl phosphonic acid, phenoxyacetic acids, and array of prabens) --in addition to any analytes that can be measured by commercially available ELISA based methods. Specific methods have also been developed for accurate, precise, fast, sensitive and affordable determination of caffeine metabolites, lipid-phase micronutrients (carotenoids, tocopherols), flavonoids, isoflavonoids, lignans, betel alkaloids, and other agents with phytoestrogenic effects. Recently, the resource has also established assays for oxidized and reduced coenzyme Q10, 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine, 5-methyldeoxycytosine, and vitamins A, C, and D. Most methods employ liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry (LCMS), photo-diode array, fluorescence, or electrochemical detection. A major improvement of analytical capabilities is the availability of a tandem LCMS system awarded from NCRR/NIH in 2005, UHPLC equipment acquired in 2008, and by two high-resolution accurate-mass orbitrap LCMS systems. The instrumentation and techniques are currently applied in various interventions as well as in many large-scale cross-sectional and prospective epidemiologic and other studies with focus on biomarker development for cancer prevention. Since mid 2022 I also integrated metabolomics based analyses since the Metabolomics Shared Resource was folded into this core. The metabolomics based assays with fundamental biostatistical evaluations include an array of over 300 analytes each for lipids, bile acids, fatty acids or small molecules (“Q300 assay”).

Selected Publications

Franke AA, Li X, Herzog TA, Paulino YC, Badowski G, Wilkens LR, Lai JF.(2023). Salivary Areca and tobacco alkaloids for bioverification in the Betel Nut Intervention Trial (BENIT). Drug Test Anal. 2023 Jan;15(1):58-65. doi: 10.1002/dta.3364. PMC9870849

Herzog TA, Wilkens LR, Badowski G, Mendez AJ, Franke AA, Pokhrel P, Chennaux JSN, Tenorio LF, Sotto PP, Kawamoto CT, Paulino YC. (in press). The Betel Nut Intervention Trial (BENIT). A multicenter, randomized, parallel, stage 3 clinical trial for areca nut and betel quid cessation: Primary outcomes. IJCPH – In press.

Wu A, Franke AA, Wilkens LR, Tseng C, Conroy SM, Li Y, Sangaramoorthy M, Polfus LM, De Rouen M, Caberto C, Haiman C, Stram DO, Le Marchand L, Cheng I. (2021). Risk of Breast Cancer and pre-diagnostic urinary excretion of bisphenol A, triclosan, and parabens: the Multiethnic Cohort Study. Int.J. Cancer;  149(7), 1426–1434.

Wu A, Franke AA, Wilkens LR, Tseng C-C, Conroy S, Li Y, Polfus L, De Rouen M, Caberto C, Haiman C, Stram D, Le Marchand L, Cheng I. (2021). Urinary phthalate exposure and risk of breast cancer: the Multiethnic Cohort Study. Breast Cancer Res. Apr 6;23(1):44.

Franke AA, Li X, Shvetsov YB, Lai JF. (2021). Pilot Study on urinary aminomethylphosphonic acid excretion and breast cancer risk: The Multiethnic Cohort Study. Environm Pollution; May 15;277:116848. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.116848. Epub 2021 Mar 1.

Franke AA, Li X, Lai JF. (2020). Analysis of glyphosate, aminomethylphosphonic acid, and glufosinate from human urine by LC/HRAM-MS. Anal Bioanal Chem; 412(30):8313-8324.

Franke AA, Li X, Lai JF. (2016). Pilot study on the pharmacokinetics of betel nut and betel quid biomarkers in saliva, urine, and hair of betel consumers. Drug Test Anal; 8(10), 1095-1099. PMC4967029.

Publication list via PubMed