The Fight for Better Cancer Drugs

By: Lauren Cahoon Roberts,  Cornell Research
October 18, 2016

Could one tiny enzyme be the key to cancer’s defeat? Richard A. Cerione, Chemistry and Chemical Biology/Molecular Medicine, is trying to find out. By studying the metabolic pathways that keep healthy cells on track and let cancer cells run wild, Cerione may be closing in on some promising new candidates for therapeutic targets.

Like many cancer researchers, Cerione has personal experiences that motivated him to work in this field. While finishing his PhD, his grandfather, who had spent a great deal of time with him as a boy, passed away from pancreatic cancer. Later, while doing postdoctoral research in biochemistry at Duke University with Robert Lefkowitz, the 2012 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Cerione walked through the children’s ward of a cancer center. “At that time, my focus was more mechanistic and molecular than biomedical,” says Cerione. “But I was totally struck by that experience in the children’s ward—the parents looked worse than the kids. It stayed with me.”

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