The von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) Alliance is pleased to award research funding to two outstanding researchers, Othon Iliopoulos, MD, Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital and Danny Segal, PhD, Tel Aviv University. Both researchers will screen and study potential therapeutic agents to prevent tumor development as occurs in von-Hippel Lindau syndrome and other forms of cancer.
With the VHL Alliance funding, Dr. Iliopoulos will create a novel method to screen compounds on their ability to impede tumor growth. The initial focus of his work will be to design an automated high-throughput screening model which will rapidly screen more than 25,000 existing compounds that have “drug-like” properties. These hand-picked agents include drugs already approved by the FDA for treatment of diseases and/or chemicals with known mechanism of action.
Dr. Segal, using a similar approach which has produced positive results for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, will test whether a naturally occurring compound can prevent tumor development. Dr. Segal’s research focuses on a specific protein, pVHL, involved in many forms of cancer, including kidney, breast, pancreas, liver, and colon. This critical protein, pVHL is the protein product of the VHL gene. In cancer, the VHL gene is altered, resulting in instability of pVHL. Dr. Segal will test arginine, a building block of all proteins, as a means of stabilizing pVHL. Using a test tube model, his laboratory has already has already obtained promising results.
“We are thrilled to be able to support important and innovative research which will help lead to a cure for von Hippel-Lindau and other forms of cancer” said Ilene Sussman, Executive Director of the VHL Alliance. “Scientific research is essential to the VHL Alliance and our ongoing commitment to educating and supporting those with VHL as we work towards a cure. The commitment to research is demonstrated through the VHL Alliance, Cancer in Our Genes International Patient Databank (www.vhl.org/databank) which will benefit VHL patients, physicians, and researchers as well as those affected with other forms of cancer”.