John Bushweller, PhD, and Dan Gioeli, PhD, Awarded $3.3 Million to Develop a Novel Drug Targeting ERG for Prostate Cancer Treatment

July 9, 2024 by

(From left) John Bushweller, PhD, and Dan Gioeli, PhD.

(From left) John Bushweller, PhD, and Dan Gioeli, PhD

John Bushweller, PhD, a professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics and the Department of Chemistry, and Dan Gioeli, PhD, a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer, were awarded a five-year $3.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to further develop and test a new approach to treatment for prostate cancer, namely targeting the ERG transcription factor.

The development of resistance to current therapeutic approaches for the treatment of prostate cancer is common, leading to poorer patient outcomes, so there is a clear need for new therapeutic approaches. The transcription factor ERG is a driver in approximately half of prostate cancers. Transcription factors, proteins which bind to DNA and regulate gene expression, have traditionally been viewed as very challenging targets for drug development. The Bushweller lab has developed a small molecule inhibitor of ERG binding to DNA that is potent and specific, making it a strong candidate for use in prostate cancer. The grant will support further optimization of the inhibitor, evaluation of its functional effects on gene expression, and in vivo testing in mice to establish its potential clinical utility.

The researchers are collaborating on this project with Michael Hageman, PhD, at the University of Kansas.

Filed Under: Research