Therapies that recruit and reactivate a patient’s own immune system against cancer have shown a great deal of promise. However, not all patients benefit from these therapies. Thus, developing strategies to boost immune-based treatments is critical. One approach is to develop drugs that improve the function of immune cells. This can be done by targeting transcription factors, which are proteins that help regulate the expression of other proteins. However, transcription factors are very difficult to drug because they often do not have suitable binding sites for chemical compounds. Nevertheless, we recently developed compounds that target a transcription factor known to be important in certain immune cells. Our major goal is to see if targeting this transcription factor can boost the immune response against tumors in mice. We will also try to understand how these compounds reprogram immune cells. This is important because several companies are developing similar drugs, but how these drugs work is not fully understood. The experiments in this proposal will shed light on how this class of drugs work. This will be useful for evaluating how they are used in patients to improve patient outcomes like increased survival.
Eric Wang, PhD
Location: Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute - California
Proposal: Disrupting immunosuppressive networks via pharmacological degradation of the transcription factor Helios