Designing Targeted Cancer Therapies from the Ground Up

Ze’ev Ronai, Ph.D.

Ze’ev Ronai, Ph.D. Professor and Program Director, Signal Transduction

Signaling is critically important to all cellular processes. Tumor cells have learned to co-opt key regulatory signals to pursue their constant proliferation and metastasis. By investigating how these processes go awry, researchers can eventually develop the next generation of cancer therapies. Also, because scientists are targeting very specific areas in the cell, perhaps a single protein, researchers can develop selective, less toxic, treatments.

In metastatic melanoma, more than 70 percent of tumors carry mutations in the genes B-Raf or N-Ras, which control cell growth. These mutations create a cascade of strong signals along the ERK pathway, telling cells to grow continuously. Dr. Ze’ev Ronai’s laboratory has found that these strong signals activate a second pathway, named JNK. The ability of one signaling network to cross-talk with another shows how melanoma rewires key pathways.

Mechanisms of cancer

By analogy, the road from one destination to another changes to include multiple bypasses and detours which lead to new destinations. This is just one example of how one process controls another set of signals to help cancers grow. Understanding how key signaling pathways are rewired in melanoma offers new targets for potential therapies.

Research - Cancer - Your Health: Deisgning Targeted Cancer Therapies from the Ground Up
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