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Searching for ways to inhibit cancer

scienceisartA protein called Hsp90, short for “heat shock protein-90,” acts as a chaperone or guardian of cancer cells, helping them grow and survive.

This image shows the carefully folded parts of the protein, and the resulting pockets, which are occupied by energy chemicals called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) at one ten-billionth of a meter atomic resolution.

Mehdi Mollapour, PhD

Mehdi Mollapour, PhD

Drugs compete with ATP to occupy these pockets, which cuts off the energy supply to the protein, consequently killing cancer cells. Assistant professor Mehdi Mollapour, PhD, and colleagues are exploring ways to selectively inhibit Hsp90 using natural products and hope to enhance the efficacy of Hsp90 inhibitors in cancer patients.

Mollapour splits his time between the departments of urology and biochemistry and molecular biology.