Camarero Receives American Cancer Society Grant

Funding from the American Cancer Society will support a study that could lead to new therapeutics for colorectal cancer

Julio A. Camarero, John A. Biles Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the USC Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, was awarded a $300,000 Discovery Boost Grant from the American Cancer Society for the project “Therapeutic Targeting of Hdm2/HdmX E3 Ligase in Colorectal Cancer.”

One of the most common types of cancers, colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. The lack of preventive strategies, early diagnostic methods and effective therapies to treat recurrent colorectal tumors creates a pressing need to understand its pathogenesis and identify novel therapeutic approaches, Camarero says.

Previously, Camarero and team members developed a bioactive cyclotide known as MCo-52-2, which is able to inactivate Hdm2/HdmX E3 ligase activity in vitro and in vivo. The project continues the development of this cyclotide as a single compound therapeutic agent using several mouse models of metastatic colorectal cancer.

“This project will enable obtaining preclinical animal models of p53-null tumors of metastatic colorectal cancer, laying the groundwork for new strategies to target tumors with different p53-phenotypes,” Camarero said. “We anticipate that developing selective, potent, and affordable specific Hdm2/HdmX E3 ligase inhibitors will mark a new era in developing novel peptide-based therapeutics to treat cancer.”

American Cancer Society Discovery Boost grants are designed for exploratory research to develop research methodologies, establish feasibility, or pilot test high-risk/high-reward research across the research continuum, according to the American Cancer Society.

The two-year project is in collaboration with Heinz-Josef Lenz, professor of medicine and the J. Terrence Lanni Chair in Gastrointestinal Cancer Research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and Associate Director for Clinical Research and Co-Leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.