The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

A strategy is discovered to activate genes that suppress cancer

A team of researchers led by Yanming Wang of the Huck Institutes' Center for Eukaryotic Gene Regulation and Gong Chen of the Department of Chemistry has found that by inhibiting the PAD4 enzyme they can reactivate tumor-suppressing genes to destroy cancerous cells.

Building on previous research, Dr. Wang and his collaborators theorized that since the peptidylarginine deiminase 4 (PAD4) gene acts to silence tumor-suppressing genes, then inhibiting the enzyme produced by the PAD4 gene should allow the tumor-suppressing genes to more effectively destroy cancerous cells.

When mice with cancerous tumors were treated with a combination of an undisclosed PAD4 enzyme-inhibiting molecule and additional enzyme inhibitors, the treatment was as effective as the most commonly used chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin — which shrinks tumors by roughly 70 percent — and caused significantly less damage to healthy tissues.

The results of the study have been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

More about Yanming Wang

Dr. Wang is an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, a researcher in the Huck Institutes' Center for Eukaryotic Gene Regulation, and a co-funded faculty member of the Huck Institutes' graduate programs in cell and developmental biology, genetics, and molecular medicine.

More media coverage