HOW DO WE SWITCH OFF CANCER?
Brain and blood cancer. Some of the most frightening diagnoses you can possibly hear. Nearly always fatal, almost completely untreatable.
These cancers have something else in common: they are triggered by a specific protein called STAT-3. Scientists think that if we can learn to switch off this protein, we’ll be able to kill tumours without triggering the painful side effects of traditional chemotherapy.
But STAT-3 has long been considered “undruggable.” Until now.
STAT-3 has been called as a master regulator of the cancer cell. Turn it off, and you kill the cancer. But how? No one has been able to figure it out. At the Gunning Group lab, we think we’ve found a way.
What's the difference between a cancer cell and a normal cell? Cancer cells are constantly growing and dividing. They form tumours, they move through the body, and they evade all the natural cues to die.
Design a molecule that binds to the protein in just the right way, and it stops that protein from doing its job. And that’s where we are today: our drug is killing cancer cells, and leaving healthy cells unharmed.
We’re almost there! We’ve designed molecules that kill cancer cells in the lab. The next stage is to refine them, test them, and get them into clinical trials, so that we can start saving lives. And to do this more quickly, we need your help.
Tweak, test. Tweak, test. Tweak, test. Our challenge today is to refine our most promising cancer-fighting molecules. To make sure they will kill cancer cells not just in the lab but in the human body, without harmful side effects. This is time-consuming, labour-intensive work – and there are no shortcuts. But with your help, we can speed up our research. We can hire more staff and run more experiments. We can get new cancer treatments into clinical trials sooner, and start saving lives.
UTM's student-led Business Consulting Association and the Institute of Culture, Communication & Information Technology Council raised $600 in support of the UTM Gunning Group Fund through a student-organized charity movie night and bake sale in honour of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.
"While planning corporate social responsibility events for October, we were researching organizations that work to fight cancer and have made huge breakthroughs in recent years," explains UTM student Noor Hafeez, corporate social responsibility director of the of the Business Consulting Association. "We were pleased to choose the Gunning Group at UTM!"
SUPPORTING THE GUNNING LAB’S RESEARCH
An interview with donor Joy Cunningham.
A profile of two scientists funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Ontario.
LEUKEMIA AND LYMPHOMA
Gunning’s research on less invasive treatements for blood cancers.
Targeting master regulators of rare and lethal cancers.