Navigation Links
Tufts University chemist earns prestigious award for promising research on drug development

MEDFORD/SOMERVILE, Mass. Joshua Kritzer, assistant professor in the School of Arts and Sciences Department of Chemistry at Tufts University, has been awarded one of 33 NIH Director's New Innovator Awards, one of the most prestigious grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health.

The NIH Director's New Innovator Award program is designed specifically to support unusually creative new investigators with highly innovative research ideas at an early stage of their career. Awards recognize the potential of projects to have a significant impact on important biomedical or behavioral research problems.

The $1.5 million grant will fund Kritzer's research into a rapid drug-screening process that may help scientists identify new drugs to treat diseases. Scientists today face a fundamental problem in the drug discovery process. Up to 90 percent of the human proteins, including many that cause cancer and other diseases, are difficult to target through traditional methods of screening.

Adapting his previous work at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Kritzer is able to use baker's yeast to produce large collections of molecules called cyclic peptides. To do this, Kritzer inserted short snippets of DNA into the yeast cells that direct them to make the cyclic peptides. The cells then synthesize tens of millions of different cyclic peptides that can be directly tested for anti-cancer or other activities.

Cyclic peptides are important because they can bind with disease-causing proteins that scientists previously have been unable to target because they do not possess "active sites" or pockets that can easily bind with inhibitory drugs. As a result, drug developers have largely ignored these proteins, says Kritzer. "They are considered undruggable targets, but they include some of the most direct causes of cancer, inflammation and other diseases," he says.

Kritzer will focus his technology on a specific group of proteins called transcription factors, which are in charge of turning genes on and off. "Cancer involves cell growth pathways that are getting turned on when they should be off," says Kritzer, and thus many transcription factors are known to be overactive in human cancers. For his research Kritzer will target three transcription factors implicated in cancer -- Myc, STAT3 and HSF1.

Kritzer can use yeast cells not only to make the cyclic peptides but also to sift through them to find those that inhibit these critical cancer proteins. In this manner, Kritzer notes, "we can screen up to 50 million new molecules for activity in living cells in a single week."

These new molecules will then be used as tools to understand how transcription factors contribute to cancer and other diseases. They may even form the basis for designing drugs that target these important but overlooked proteins.


Contact: Alex Reid
Tufts University

Related biology news :

1. Tufts graduate students win $10,000 prizes
2. Tufts wins NCRR grant for Collaborative Cluster in Genome Structure and Developmental Patterning
3. Tufts students host Earth Day with groundbreaking ceremony for solar house
4. Tufts University professor receives IADR Pharmacology/Therapeutics/Toxicology Award
5. Tufts University Prof. Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos named as AAAS Fellow
6. Karl Deisseroth of Stanford University receives HFSP Nakasone Award
7. Michigan State University Federal Credit Union Deploys DigitalPersona Pro to Simplify Password Management and Strengthen Security
8. Columbia University Medical Center announces 2010 Katz Prizes in cardiovascular research
9. University of Illinois researchers discover potential new virus in switchgrass
10. Texas A&M University becomes key player in global study to save Earths endangered species
11. Falling in love more scientific than you think, according to Syracuse University professor
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)... LIVERMORE, Calif. , Nov. 17, 2015  Vigilant ... has joined its Board of Directors. ... Vigilant,s Board after recently retiring from the partnership at ... owning 107 companies with over $140 Billion in revenue.  ... performance improvement across all the TPG companies, from 1997 ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... 12, 2015  A golden retriever that stayed healthy ... (DMD) has provided a new lead for treating this ... Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the University ... Cell, pinpoints a protective gene ... disease,s effects. The Boston Children,s lab of Lou ...
(Date:11/11/2015)...   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical technology ... pleased to announce that it will be a Sponsor of ... to be held November 17-19 in Hamburg ... of iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, proven and ... has been able to deliver time and cost savings of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ... "Company") announced today that the remaining 11,000 post-share ... Share Purchase Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject ... were exercised on November 23, 2015, which will ... Shares.  After giving effect to the issuance of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... In harsh industrial ... points for in-line sensors can represent a weak spot where leaking process media ... of retractable sensor housings , which are designed to tolerate extreme process conditions. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... Inc., on being named to Deloitte's 2015 Technology Fast 500 list of the ... manufactures AcceleDent®, a FDA-cleared, Class II medical device that speeds up orthodontic tooth ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... discovery, development and commercialization of first-in-class therapeutics, today announced ... is scheduled to present at the 2015 Piper Jaffray ... EST, at The Lotte New York Palace Hotel in ... . --> . ...
Breaking Biology Technology: