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Innovative Anticancer Strategy for Therapeutics and Diagnosis Group

Redox reactions have played critical roles in every aspect of cancer pathogenesis, progress and treatment. It is therefore required to understand and control redox reactions in cancer cells in order to develop future treatment that effectively treats cancer patients. Innovative Anticancer Strategy for Therapeutics and Diagnosis Group (Group Leader: Prof. Yoshihiko Maehara, Department of Surgery and Science, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University) tries to find out action mechanisms of anti-cancer drug and to develop novel therapeutic methods in close collaboration with clinic, surgery and basic medical research.

Redox reactions are involved in many aspects of in vivo metabolism. As a result of the reaction, various kinds of free radicals, including reactive oxygen species (ROS), are generated inside, to attack cells and threaten their survival. Genomic DNA, which encodes genetic information, is a target of free radicals attacks. Damaged DNA sometimes induces cell death and causes mutations. Cells have multiple layers of mechanism to repair DNA damages accurately and maintain genome stability. When this mechanism is defective, DNA damages cannot be properly repaired and easily cause mutations. Accumulated mutations can lead to genome instability and tumorigenesis. In fact, inherited mutations are often found in DNA repair genes of patients with hereditary diseases with high incidence of cancer. Recently, researchers have recognized that there is an alternative pathway, which gets hyperactivated to complement defective DNA repair mechanism. This hyperactivated backup pathway can be a vulnerable therapeutic target for hereditary cancer, because tumor cells are easily killed, with both repair pathways inhibited. This is called "synthetic lethal" relationship. Recent finding of hyperactivation of poly (ADP-ribosyl) polymerase (PARP) in hereditary breast cancer with mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is one example. Some PARP inhibitors are currently in clinical trials and will be available for treatment of cancer patients in the near future. The concept of synthetic lethal relationship can be applied to drug combination and patient selection with biomarkers in treatment using chemotherapeutic drugs. Our group, in collaboration with Taiho Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., is now focusing on DNA repair pathway that affects the sensitivity to currently available chemotherapeutic drugs. Our missions are (1) to find appropriate biomarkers with basic medical research data to predict effect of chemotherapy and benefit for patients, (2) to develop new therapeutic strategy for better prognosis and (3) to find appropriate target molecules for new drugs.


Kyushu University

Yoshihiko MAEHARA Professor
Hiroyuki KITAO Associate Professor
Ryo SAKASAI Assistant Professor
Akiko SAKAI Assistant Professor



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