Controlling the progression of cancer with new therapeutic strategies, particularly with drugs aimed at inhibiting a series of key proteins and reactivating tumor suppressor genes – is the strategy we are pursuing here at the Sbarro Institute, located at Temple University in Philadelphia, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Siena and the Pascale National Cancer Institute in Naples.
Cancer is a multi-step disease; one key moment is when the cells lose their brakes and start to grow out of control. Over the past 30 years, we have been focused on one aspect: ‘cell proliferation’. In our mission to search for brakes against cancer, we discovered a series of ‘key’ molecules (cyclins and CDKs) whose action is controlled by tumor suppressor genes. The function of these genes resembles the functions of brakes in a car parked downhill. When ‘switched off’ or damaged, cyclins and CDKs associate, thereby triggering cell proliferation.
In recent years, our group has not only discovered these molecules in human cells but also characterized their action in tumors. In our search for a way to control tumor proliferation, we discovered some molecules that mimicked the action of tumor suppressor genes. This led to drug discoveries with great success against different types of cancers. Our work continues in various tumor models. we have now characterized a new generation of drugs, which specifically put a brake on cell proliferation. These drugs, aimed at inhibiting the AKT protein, reactivate the activity of ‘key’ tumor suppressors. A pioneering study showed pharmacological deactivation of ‘target’ proteins, to cause cell cycle arrest and cancer cell death, particularly in lung cancer and mesothelioma. Future research will aim in developing more “intelligent” and precise drugs, capable of putting a stop to cancer cells.
The above blog post was first published in Italian for Fortune Italia by Professor Antonio Giordano, click here to read.
Professor Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D. is the Founder and Director of Sbarro Health Research Organization based at the College of Science and Technology, Temple University, Philadelphia. Connect with him on his social media channels to follow more updates: (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram)