Scientists awarded $1.3 million to optimize probes to test new approach to cancer treatment

June 07, 2016

JUPITER, FL - June 7, 2016 - Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have been awarded $1.3 million by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health to develop novel compounds to enhance the immune system of patients with cancer. Although not aimed specifically at creating drug candidates, these new chemical tools will be used to explore the role of a large family of proteins that has proven to be a rich source of therapeutic targets.

TSRI's Professor Patrick R. Griffin and Associate Professor Theodore Kamenecka will be the principal investigators (PIs) of the new three-year collaborative multi-PI grant.

The new study will focus on a protein known as the retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptors (ROR) gamma and molecules that bind to it (ligands) and activate the receptor (agonists).

"There has been significant interest in the ROR family of proteins because they play key roles in energy and fat metabolism as well as immunity," Griffin said. "Many labs have developed compounds to repress the activity of ROR gamma for use in a range of autoimmune diseases. However, only a few labs, including ours, have described activators of this receptor. This research grant will help us optimize our current set of chemical compounds. These molecules will be used to help trigger immune cells so they will attack and kill tumor cells. The general idea is such compounds will help battle adaptive immune resistance encountered in cancer therapy."

Mi Ra Chang, senior staff scientist in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics, will lead the development of cancer models for this program.

"Previously we had described a chemical probe that can activate immune cells. This research award will allow us to optimize the potency, selectivity and bioavailability of our ROR gamma agonists," Kamenecka added. "Optimized probes that have good pharmaceutical properties can then be studied in models of cancer immunotherapy."

Once that work is completed, the scientists expect to pursue pre-clinical development of the drug candidates.

The number of the grant is R01 CA206493.

Scripps Research Institute

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to