Cancer Institute

  • Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Program

    The Molecular Cancer Therapeutics (MCT) Program's long-term goal is the development of safer and more effective cancer treatments. Program members conduct basic, translational and clinical research and commonly use molecular, biological and pharmacologic tools to perform analysis of pathways intrinsic to cancer therapeutics, with emphasis on angiogenesis, receptor-mediated signaling, apoptosis, epigenetics and transcriptional interference. Our members interact with members in the Tumor Cell Biology, Cancer Genetics and Epidemiology programs and are encouraged to collaborate with other basic and clinical researchers as well as pharmaceutical industry.

    The main scientific goals of the members of the MCT Program are:

    • To identify, study and validate unique molecular targets that may not be high priorities for the pharmaceutical industry.
    • To study innovative cancer therapy approaches that affect the survival of tumor cells by novel mechanisms.
    • To investigate molecular and pharmacologic mechanisms of drug action and drug delivery as well as tumor cells drug resistance.
    • To collaborate with the Cancer Drug Discovery Core in the National Center for Natural Products Research in Oxford to screen and identify novel natural small-molecule inhibitors and to understand the mechanisms of these drugs on processes required for the proliferation and survival of cancer cells.
    • To collaborate with the UMMC Genomics core and the Cancer Institute Bio-informatics core to identify novel therapeutic targets.
    • To provide proof of concept for early phase clinical trials for treatment of cancer.

    Program members

    Our members have a wide range of expertise essential for identifying molecular targets by gene expression profiling as well as developing innovative cancer therapeutics by computational and high-throughput screening approaches and validating them by RNA interference and other molecular techniques. The members are also experts in medicinal chemistry, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Our program is focused on the development of new cancer therapeutics from target identification through drug screening to proof of concept for clinical trials.

    The programmatic goals of the MCT Program are:

    • To foster state of the art research in our members' laboratories.
    • To foster inter-programmatic collaborations by maintaining regular discussions between the different laboratories.
    • To foster intra-programmatic collaborations by engaging with the other programs in cancer institute annual retreats and facilitate the initiation of such collaborative interactions.
    • To furnish an environment in which the careers of graduate students, MD/PhD students and postdoctoral fellows are excelled and to bring them into contact with all aspects of cancer research during their studies.

    Research focus

    The MCT Program has three overlapping areas of focus: new target and drug discovery, molecular and biological analysis of existing drugs, the re-use of old drugs. MCT Program not only develops cytotoxic drugs but also targeted drugs. The program aims at designing drugs or drug regimens that based on regress molecular, structural and experimental analysis of novel cancer targets. The MCT Program also attempts to discover uses for old, FDA approved drugs in new cancers or cancer subtypes.