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Smash Childhood Cancer Researchers Choose New Target Molecules
By: Dr. Akira Nakagawara, MD, PhD
CEO of the Saga Medical Center KOSEIKAN and President Emeritus, Chiba Cancer Center
5 Jun 2018   

Summary
The Smash Childhood Cancer research team recently chose several new target molecules as the focus of their current work. Learn more about the significance of these molecules in this update.

Almost a year and a half has passed since we kicked off the Smash Childhood Cancer project. On behalf of all the team members, I really appreciate volunteers' contributions to this project.

By adding new members to the original group from the Help Fight Childhood Cancer project, our research team for Smash Childhood Cancer has become quite international, with pediatricians from Japan, Hong Kong, and the United States involved in this big, new drug development project.

While the Help Fight Childhood Cancer project's goal was to search for new and better treatments for neuroblastoma, Smash Childhood Cancer addresses not only neuroblastoma, but other childhood cancers such as brain tumors, osteosarcoma (bone cancer), germ cell tumors, hepatoblastoma (liver cancer), and others.

Several proteins--beta-catenin, LIN28B , N-CYM and others--have been newly chosen as target molecules. The structures of the beta-catenin and LIN28B proteins have been determined, so in silico screening for these has been started, looking for high binding affinity compounds from a library of more than 3 million small molecules.

The N-CYM protein, which was discovered by my team and myself, is the novel driving gene product of neuroblastoma. The protein is only found in humans and chimpanzees, and is created through de novo evolution (meaning it is part of the evolution of the cancer). The protein is quite difficult to crystallize for some reason and we are still working on determining its exact structure so that drug discovery against it could begin.

Recently, we received a grant from Japanese government to support our drug discovery against the LIN28B protein, which may help accelerate our progress on Smash Childhood Cancer.
 
Once again, I would like to express our gratitude for volunteers all over the world who have been supporting the project. For children who are fighting childhood cancer, we would like to discover a new drug as soon as possible and develop a treatment without subsequent side effects.




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Project Update

Dr. Akira Nakagawara, MD, PhD
CEO of the Saga Medical Center KOSEIKAN and President Emeritus, Chiba Cancer Center