Phila. Scientists Working on Cure for Cancer

Phila. Scientists Working on Cure for Cancer

Three scientists from the Philadelphia area are working with researchers at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) on a potential cure for cancer following their selection for GSK's 2014 Discovery Fast Track Challenge program.

Maureen Murphy, professor and leader of Wistar Institute's molecular and cellular oncogenesis program; Donna George and Julie Leu, associate professor and assistant professor in genetics respectively at the University of Pennsylvania, are working on a drug that targets stress-induced protein called HSP70 that is found in low levels in normal cells, but higher levels in most tumor cells.

"Normal cells don't need HSP70 to survive, but cancer cells do," Murphy said.  "It's the Achilles heel of cancer."  The trio of researchers discovered a series of HSP70 inhibitors that have shown to be effective in lymphoma and melanoma in mice.

Working with scientists in GSK Discovery Partnerships with Academia and the drug company's molecular discovery research team in screening their target against GSK's vast compound collection, the threesome is looking for new drugs that target HSP70 while modifying their existing drug candidates to make them better.

The project submitted by Professors Murphy, George and Leu was one of 14 selected by GSK for the program from 428 entries from researchers in 26 countries.