Innovative Approaches for GNAQ/11 Mutant Characterization and Therapeutic Targeting

Walter Fast, PhD

Co-PI Jennifer Brodbelt, PhD
Award Type Pilot Proposal
Institution University of Texas at Austin
Donor Support Made possible through the efforts of the MRF as well as the generosity of Jack Odell, John Dagres and their supporters.

A type of cancer found in the colored part the eye is called uveal melanoma. This particular type of cancer can often be treated successfully with surgery and radiation. However, if allowed to spread, the cancer is often deadly and there are very few effective treatment options. By building an understanding of how this cancer starts and spreads, new therapeutic treatments can be developed. Many cases of uveal melanoma appear to arise from harmful changes in one particular protein (a “G-protein”) that essentially turns on the circuits that lead to cancer growth. In this project, we are studying the changes in this G-protein to understand how they “turn on” this switch. We are also using this information to take the first steps in designing new drugs to stop these cancers. By knowing more information about the changes in the G-protein, we can design new drugs that seek out and turn off only the harmful proteins, and not the healthy versions. Although these efforts lie in the realm of basic research, they provide a foundation on which useful anti-cancer drugs can be built.