At the University of Bath in England, Professor Michael Threadgill and Dr Nathubhai are using their AICR grant to make potential new anti-cancer drugs that will act on specific proteins which are present at abnormally high levels in cancer cells.
This makes them good targets to selectively kill cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells relatively unharmed. The specific shapes of these proteins are already known and the researchers are using computer software to design potential new drugs in “virtual reality”, making the discovery process more efficient and cutting out laboratory work on those chemicals which can be predicted to be ineffective. They will then test them to see if they actually work on the proteins (known as Tankyrases) but on no other useful proteins.
Professor Threadgill and Dr Nathubhai hope that the completion of this project will provide one or more potential anti-cancer drugs which work by new mechanisms of action.