Professor Hua Shi

Professor Hua Shi, Ph.D., of the Department of Biological Sciences has received a four-year Research Scholar Award from the American Cancer society in the amount of $687,000.

The objective of the project is to create novel reagents to modulate the human estrogen receptor (hER) alpha and to search for drug target sites on this important protein. More than half of all breast cancers are stimulated to grow by the female sex hormone estrogen whose activity is mediated by estrogen receptors (ERs). These breast cancers are treatable by ER antagonists. In this study, RNA (ribonucleic acid) will be used as a material to generate molecular partners for hER alpha.

These novel molecular partners, termed aptamers, will bind to specific sites on the ER and occlude certain areas on the molecular surface, thereby inhibiting ER activity. Currently, all ER antagonists in clinical use bind to one site on the ER. This project will discover and validate non-traditional sites as drug targets. The aptamers identified in this project are valuable pharmaceutical leads, which can be used as templates for new drugs to treat breast cancer.