Oncogenic signaling pathways
From fundamental research to drug discovery
Intracellular signaling governs numerous cellular activities in normal and pathological conditions. My research focuses on the evolutionary conserved Wnt/Frizzled signaling pathway, which is crucial for organism development but is also important in the adult, regulating stem cell proliferation, tissue regeneration, synapse formation, and when misactivated – cancer. Among the organs most susceptible to oncogenic transformation due to overactivation of this pathway are the colon, the breast, and the liver. Targeted pharmacological downregulation of the Wnt pathway is a ‘holy grail’ of many of the modern anticancer drug discovery programs, yet it has so far been elusive, with only a few Wnt-targeting therapies achieving just the early phase of clinical trials. Establishment of novel paradigms for the Wnt-targeting drug discovery, as well as discovering novel molecular components of the Wnt pathway as potential drug targets is imperative to advance this domain of biomedicine. My laboratory is active in both. Numerous novel players involved in Wnt signaling have been discovered by my research, some of them proving to be promising drug targets. And multiple ‘lines of attack’ of my laboratory against the Wnt pathway in cancer have created an ever-expanding portfolio of anti-Wnt signaling drug candidates at different stages of development. This combination of fundamental and translational research will continue to produce new discoveries of the signaling mechanisms and new drug candidates to combat cancer.