NC Cancer Center researchers win awards

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Aug. 28—LEBANON — Researchers from Dartmouth and Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Norris Cotton Cancer Center have won two awards for their promising approach to targeting a gene responsible for many types of cancer.

The research marks a breakthrough in decades of frustrated attempts by cancer biologists worldwide to rein in the cancer-driving gene known as MYC. MYC plays a central role in tumor growth in breast, colon, and lung cancers as well as in leukemia, lymphoma, and melanoma. Yet because MYC is also essential to normal cell growth and to human life, it has long been considered off limits for drug therapy.

The breakthrough comes from Michael D. Cole, PhD, and his research associate Edmond J. Feris, PhD. Their novel strategy targets MYC's dependence on other genes, such as TRRAP (Transformation/Transcription Domain-Associated Protein).

"Cancer cells evolve through a multi-stage process," explained Dr. Cole, a member of the NCCC's Cancer Biology and Therapeutics Research Program and professor of Molecular and Systems Biology at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine. "By targeting MYC's vulnerability, its dependence on TRRAP and other proteins in that process, we aim to block MYC's cancer-causing activity without disrupting its life-preserving functions."

The potential of this strategy to lead to new cancer therapies has won for the Cole lab a cancer research accelerator award. Launched by the NCCC and Dartmouth's Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship, the research accelerator program funds critical next steps in projects with great potential for cancer treatments. In addition, the Lymphoma Research Foundation awarded a fellowship to Dr. Feris to investigate implications of this strategy for MYC-driven lymphomas.

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