With $406,835 funding from the National Institute of Health, Susan Bane and her Binghamton research team are working in collaboration with David Kingston of Virginia Polytechnic Institute to learn more about the protein "tubulin."
"Tubulin is a target for a number of anticancer drugs," Bane said.
Found in all cells and in the highest concentrations in the nerve cells of the brain, tubulin is critical to cell growth and therefore affords a switch that can help control the spread of cancer, all forms of which are characterized by uncontrolled cell growth.
Bane has been studying tubulin for over a decade, and Taxol, an anti-cancer drug commonly used to treat many types of breast, ovarian and lung cancers, is key to her research. Until her work recently suggested otherwise, scientists had thought that the synthetic portion of Taxol was key to the drug's effectiveness.
"The conventional wisdom was that it was the most important part of the molecule because it binds with the receptor," said Bane.
But Bane's discovery, which was recently published in Biochemistry, is that the naturally occurring part of Taxol actually does most of the work.
Taxol is a major money-maker for Bristol-Meyers Squibb Company, earning the pharmaceutical giant around $1.5 billion a year in the United States alone. By figuring out how anticancer drugs like Taxol interact with tubulin at the molecular level, Bane and her research team hope to pave the way for the development of even more effective next-generation drugs.
The convoluted origins of Taxol help to make clear why producing it and understanding exactly how it works in the body is challenging. In the early 1960s, the National Cancer Institute initiated a pr
Contact: Susan E. Barker