UACC members further anti-cancer drug development

Danzhou Yang and Laurence Hurley
Danzhou Yang and Laurence Hurley

A new grant for cancer research could be funding the development of a novel drug-like molecule that can kill cancer cells with little to no toxicity in the body.

Danzhou Yang, PhD, and Laurence Hurley, PhD, University of Arizona Cancer Center members and professors in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, were awarded a five-year, approximately $370,000 grant for their research titled “Modulating c-Myc transcription by G-quadruplex-interactive small molecules.” The project started in June 2014.

The investigation stems from the novel research path developed largely by Hurley, holder of the Howard J. Schaeffer Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Rather than targeting the c-Myc protein, as typical in drug discovery, Hurley and Yang’s studies have focused on the DNA G-quadruplex, a novel four-stranded DNA secondary structure.

“We are very excited about already having a small drug-like molecule and right now we are trying to figure out the precise binding site and specific molecular interactions of the compound, including with a protein that specifically interacts with the c-Myc G-quadruplex and modulates the c-Myc transcription,” Yang says. “From there we hope to develop more specific and better drug-like molecules which could become clinical candidates.”

Yang and Hurley will spend the five years for which this project is funded investigating and improving the drug the team hopes to develop. If all goes well, the molecule they find for drug development will get into preclinical development, and then into clinical trials.

Read the full story at the UA College of Pharmacy website.

-Aug. 27, 2014