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Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Development of novel Hsp90 inhibitors with anticancer activity

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.09.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Pharmacy   

Code Science Field
B740  Biomedical sciences  Pharmacological sciences, pharmacognosy, pharmacy, toxicology 

Code Science Field
3.01  Medical and Health Sciences  Basic medicine 
Keywords
anticancer drugs, Hsp90, molecular modelling, inhibitor, drug design
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (14)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  21456  PhD Marko Anderluh  Pharmacy  Researcher  2019 - 2023  372 
2.  50490  Martina Durcik  Pharmacy  Junior researcher  2019 - 2023  61 
3.  08329  PhD Simona Golič Grdadolnik  Chemistry  Researcher  2019 - 2023  323 
4.  35432  PhD Darja Gramec Skledar  Pharmacy  Researcher  2019  36 
5.  08523  PhD Jože Grdadolnik  Chemistry  Researcher  2019 - 2023  258 
6.  26496  PhD Žiga Jakopin  Pharmacy  Researcher  2019 - 2023  198 
7.  37669  PhD Andraž Lamut  Pharmacy  Junior researcher  2019 - 2020  15 
8.  50459  Iza Ogris  Chemistry  Junior researcher  2019 - 2023  42 
9.  19317  PhD Lucija Peterlin Mašič  Pharmacy  Researcher  2019 - 2023  411 
10.  30816  PhD Izidor Sosič  Pharmacy  Researcher  2019 - 2023  260 
11.  28334  PhD Tihomir Tomašić  Pharmacy  Head  2019 - 2023  390 
12.  52375  PhD Žan Toplak  Pharmacy  Researcher  2019 - 2023  25 
13.  50503  PhD Matjaž Weiss  Pharmacy  Junior researcher  2019 - 2022  33 
14.  53670  PhD Živa Zajec  Pharmacy  Researcher  2019 - 2023  23 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0787  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Pharmacy  Ljubljana  1626973  17,415 
2.  0104  National Institute of Chemistry  Ljubljana  5051592000  21,271 
Abstract
Scientific background and problem identification. Despite considerable improvements in treatment and survival times, cancer still remains one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify new drugs acting on new targets to improve treatment outcomes, especially against some aggressive types with no standard therapies, such as some non-Hodgkin lymphoma subtypes. Since chaperones are key players in maintaining a balanced protein homeostasis and several types of cancer are characterised to some extent by misregulated proteostasis, heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) chaperone represents important new target for anticancer drug development. Hsp90 is overexpressed in many different types of cancer and modulates the conformation of around 300 proteins, many of which are directly associated with cell signalling, and thus, are often hijacked during malignant transformation. Consequently, through Hsp90 inhibition, multiple signalling pathways can be disrupted simultaneously, which leads to potent anticancer effects. State-of-the art. Since discovery of the natural product geldanamycin as Hsp90 inhibitor, twenty Hsp90 inhibitors have undergone clinical investigation against different types of cancer. Unfortunately, all of these molecules bind to the Hsp90 N-terminal domain (NTD), and also induce the pro-survival heat shock response at the same concentration they inhibit the Hsp90 protein folding machinery. The net result is generally, cytostatic activity and the potential for chemotherapeutic resistance. Unlike NTD inhibitors, C-terminal domain (CTD) inhibitors can segregate these activities, which have led to unforeseen opportunities for the development of useful anticancer agents. In fact, CTD inhibitors do not induce the heat shock response and consequently, induce apoptosis against many cancer cells with high differential selectivity. Most of the known Hsp90 CTD inhibitors are analogues of the aminocoumarin antibiotic novobiocin developed by the group of Prof. Blagg, who is the partner of the proposed project consortium. Project objectives. The scientific objective of the project is to develop new anticancer leads targeting the emerging cancer target Hsp90 CTD as a new approach to treat cancer. We aim to identify new structural class of potent and selective Hsp90 CTD inhibitors against lymphomas and selected solid tumours that do not induce the heat shock response by hit-to-lead optimisation of starting in-house compounds and virtual screening hits. In addition, we will prepare first proteolysis targeting chimeras (PROTACs) by conjugating identified Hsp90 inhibitors with E3 ligase ligands to study Hsp90 degradation in cancer cells. Work programme and implementation. The proposed project covers the full cycle of early stage lead discovery process, including computer-aided design, medicinal chemistry, molecular target screening and profiling of anticancer activity and is organised in five interconnected work packages (WP). The overarching aim of the proposed project will be realised by several specific tasks in each WP that will be performed by the group of project leader Assoc. Prof. Dr. T. Tomašič at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Pharmacy, group of Prof. S. Golič Grdadolnik at National Chemistry Institute, Slovenia (KI), and three foreign partners: group of Prof. B. Blagg at the University of Notre Dame, USA, group of Dr. A. Zubriené at the Vilnius University, Lithuania, and group of Dr. E. Gaudio at the Institute of Oncology Research, Switzerland. The expertise of the project partners is complementary and synergistic and they have experience and necessary equipment for successful realisation of the project objectives. Moreover, they have already established collaboration, which is an added value that guarantees the progress and success of the project – development of novel potent and selective Hsp90 CTD inhibitors active against lymphomas and selected solid tumours.
Significance for science
Despite intensive research and development of target-specific anticancer drugs, cancer still remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Hsp90 has become a highly studied and attractive target in anticancer drug development with several Hsp90 N-terminal domain (NTD) inhibitors entering clinical trials. Unfortunately, most of the clinical trials have been discontinued due to different reasons, including toxicity. To overcome the limitations of Hsp90 NTD inhibitors, such as induction of the heat shock response and toxicity, Hsp90 C-terminal domain (CTD) inhibitors have gained increased research interest over the past years. However, there are only a few structural classes of Hsp90 CTD inhibitors currently being investigated. New classes of Hsp90 CTD inhibitors, which will be developed in the proposed project, will therefore expand the current molecular diversity of Hsp90 CTD inhibitors and provide new molecular tools and anticancer leads targeting Hsp90. A combination of excellent partners in the proposed project will not only result in acquired great innovation capacity of all involved researchers, but will strengthen the innovative activities of three universities and two institutes and further improve their competitiveness in the highly competitive world market. It will also enhance the cooperation and knowledge and expertise transfer between involved universities and institutes. All of these results fit well into the early stages of the drug discovery value chain, and will be of substantial interest for drug discovery companies in Europe. It can be expected that interesting new anticancer compounds, technologies and concepts that result from the proposed project will be welcomed by drug research companies. Altogether, better quality of research and innovation will positively contribute to Slovenia’s and Europe’s competitiveness and growth.
Significance for the country
Despite intensive research and development of target-specific anticancer drugs, cancer still remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Hsp90 has become a highly studied and attractive target in anticancer drug development with several Hsp90 N-terminal domain (NTD) inhibitors entering clinical trials. Unfortunately, most of the clinical trials have been discontinued due to different reasons, including toxicity. To overcome the limitations of Hsp90 NTD inhibitors, such as induction of the heat shock response and toxicity, Hsp90 C-terminal domain (CTD) inhibitors have gained increased research interest over the past years. However, there are only a few structural classes of Hsp90 CTD inhibitors currently being investigated. New classes of Hsp90 CTD inhibitors, which will be developed in the proposed project, will therefore expand the current molecular diversity of Hsp90 CTD inhibitors and provide new molecular tools and anticancer leads targeting Hsp90. A combination of excellent partners in the proposed project will not only result in acquired great innovation capacity of all involved researchers, but will strengthen the innovative activities of three universities and two institutes and further improve their competitiveness in the highly competitive world market. It will also enhance the cooperation and knowledge and expertise transfer between involved universities and institutes. All of these results fit well into the early stages of the drug discovery value chain, and will be of substantial interest for drug discovery companies in Europe. It can be expected that interesting new anticancer compounds, technologies and concepts that result from the proposed project will be welcomed by drug research companies. Altogether, better quality of research and innovation will positively contribute to Slovenia’s and Europe’s competitiveness and growth.
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