Professor Corrado Santocanale

Professor Corrado Santocanale

Project details

Researcher: Professor Corrado Santocanale

Location: National University of Ireland, Galway

Project title: Understanding the potential of new molecules for treating breast cancer

Key area: Treatment

Professor Corrado Santocanale wants to better understand the potential for new molecules called CDC7 inhibitors for treating breast cancer. New drugs for breast cancer, like these, could give more options to people whose cancer has stopped responding to current treatments.

The challenge

There is a great need for new treatment options for breast cancers that are resistant to currently available drugs. To make sure new drugs will be as effective as possible at killing breast cancer cells, it’s important that we have a thorough understanding of how they work and ways to identify people who would benefit from treatment.

The science behind the project

Professor Santocanale’s team was amongst the first to suggest that molecules called CDC7 inhibitors could be developed to destroy cancer cells by stopping the protein CDC7 from helping cancer cells to divide. His team now aims to build on that work to help get CDC7 inhibitors developed into drugs for clinical use.

Firstly the team will confirm that their CDC7 inhibitors are only blocking the CDC7 protein and not affecting other molecules in breast cancer cells, which could have unintended side effects. They will do this by using sophisticated techniques to modify breast cancer cells in the lab and confirm that only CDC7 is being blocked.

The team will also perform tests to identify other features in breast cancer cells that indicate a weakness to CDC7 inhibitors, where the CDC7 inhibitors would be particularly effective.

What difference will this project make?

Prof Santocanale believes this work has the potential to be a “game changer” for understanding the cellular functions of CDC7 protein and could be the start of an exciting new way to target breast cancer.

Many drug companies are already developing CDC7 inhibitors, but the risk is that these may fail in trials because they will not be targeting those cancers that are most likely to respond.

Identifying the features of cancer that can predict who responds to treatment could result in more efficient trials and so speed up the drug’s progress to the clinic.

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