Oncology Focus Areas
Exploring novel approaches and mechanisms of actions to disrupt cancer.
Small molecules are compounds that have an effect on cell activity and are developed as therapeutics. They may be used to effect reprogramming, self-renewal or differentiation of various cell functions on which cancer cells are dependent for growth and survival. As part of our research, we strive to engineer small molecules with specific characteristics that aim to block the growth and/or spread of cancer cells.
Apoptosis, otherwise known as programmed cell death, is an essential natural process that eliminates damaged, unnecessary or dangerous cells from the body. As a cell undergoes apoptosis, it breaks apart and the fragments are consumed by other types of cells, which protect the body by ingesting waste material, harmful microorganisms and other extracellular material. In normal cells, apoptosis occurs by a sequence of molecular events and is caused by cellular stress or injury.
Biologic therapies are substances derived from living organisms or laboratory-produced versions of such substances. Biologic therapeutics that stimulate the body’s immune system to act against cancer cells are often referred to as immunotherapies, and do not target cancer cells directly. Other biologic therapies, such as antibodies, target cancer cells directly and interfere with specific cell process involved in tumor growth and progression. We research and develop both types of therapies.
One way to enhance the therapeutic potential of antibodies is to combine, or “conjugate,” them to small molecule drugs, which brings together the compound’s ability to target a specific antigen and the potential benefit of a combination drug. Another way to enhance the therapeutic potential of antibodies is to use a technology that allows the generation of a dual-specific antibody to target two antigens (also called a dual-variable domain antibody).
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National Cancer Institute FactSheet, Biological Therapies for Cancer: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/biological , accessed April 29, 2014.
Sassoon I, Blanc V. Antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) clinical pipeline: a review. Methods Mol Biol. 2013;1045:1-27.
Eigenbrot, C. & Fuh, G. Two-in-One antibodies with dual action Fabs. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology. 2013; 17: 400-405.