Emma Kane, a doctoral candidate in the biochemistry and molecular biology program, won the poster contest at the Protein Society 36th Annual Symposium recently held in San Francisco.
Kane, who works in Professor Donald Spratt’s lab, presented the collaboration between Aaron Muth’s lab at St. John’s Universityand Spratt’s lab in which they are optimizing the therapeutic targeting of a protein called gankyrin to address its overexpression in various cancers. The first small molecule developed for gankyrin, as well as first-generation derivatives from the Muth lab, have demonstrated moderate therapeutic potential, Kane says.
“At Clark, we have the biophysical techniques necessary to decipher on an atomic level which regions of the protein are considerable ‘hotspots’ and where in this hotspot pocket a drug can ideally bind to,” she says. “The real-world applications with the research we conduct in the Spratt Lab directly impact the early stages of drug discovery and development. Specifically, we characterize proteins that are involved in the ubiquitin signaling pathway; these proteins have also recently gained interest within the pharma/biotech industry for drug targeting.”
Ultimately, she says, the research could revolutionize therapeutic targeting for certain illnesses and leaves the door open for alternatives in cases where current treatment options are ineffective.”
Kane will defend her thesis this fall, then will transition into a postdoctoral research role overseas. She is considering opportunities at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and the Max Planck Institutes in Tübingen, Germany.