Greetings! My name is Xuguang Liu and I’m a PhD candidate in the Department of Biochemistry at Western University, working with Dr. Shawn Li. We’re focused on cancer system biology and exploring the potential applications of our research in the treatment of HER2 positive breast cancer.
HER2 positive breast cancer is diagnosed as overactivity of proto-oncogene HER2. HER2 normally generates adequate growth signal to promote healthy cell growth; however, when over-activated, it can stimulate more-than-enough growth signal resulting in uncontrollable cell growth, thus a tumour forms.
In research labs, many strategies have been applied to fight this cancer type, but most of them lack druggability and not translated into clinical practice. By far, the most effective and applicable treatment is de-activating HER2 using inhibitors, such as Tykerb and Herceptin that have been approved for years.
Preliminary work in our lab suggests an alternative way to develop novel therapies for this cancer type. Unlike those inhibitors that generally de-activate HER2 in all cells, our engineered HER2-binding monobody may precisely bind to a selected region in HER2 protein to block the cancer-related signal, and potentially will bring fewer side effects to health tissue. In our initial test, this agent can effectively kill lab-cultured HER2 positive cancer cells.
In addition, by borrowing the strategy used in hundreds of clinical-trial anti-cancer medicines, we’re testing and optimizing the nanomaterial-based drug delivery system, aiming to efficiently send this monobody into a tumour through intravenous injection.
Thank you to BCSC for your trainee support!
– Xuguang Liu, student researcher
Pamela Greenaway-Kohlmeier Translational Breast Cancer Research Unit, London Health Sciences Centre