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ACS Gives UGA Grant for Cancer Science

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The American Cancer Society has awarded a $720,000 grant to University of Georgia Assistant Professor Natarajan Kannan to support research to indentify cancer causing mutations that could be used to develop targeted cancer drugs.

Kannan, a researcher at the UGA Cancer Center and the UGA Institute of Bioinformatics, will focus his research on analyzing mutations identified in tyrosine kinases, which are responsible for cell growth and survival and have been implicated in human cancers.

The funding also will be used to develop an automated computational pipeline to rapidly and consistently annotate over 500 tyrosine kinase mutations that are identified in genome sequencing studies.

Research has uncovered inhibitors that block mutations caused by tyrosine kinases, including the drug Gleevec (imatinib), which targets the kinase protein that can cause some cancers.

"By identifying mutations that show up consistently in hundreds of different tumors of the same type," Kannan said in a statement, "scientists will be able to pinpoint additional driver mutations of specific cancers."

"We believe that an integrative, or systems biology, approach is essential to understand the regulatory complexity of protein kinases," Kannan added.