james turkson
James Turkson leads the charge into developing an effective anti-cancer drug.

James Turkson, a University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center researcher and a professor of cancer biology, has been awarded a five-year, $2.44 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The funding will assist in the development of effective anticancer therapies against the Stat3 protein that has been identified as the main trigger in several different types of cancer, including lung, breast and pancreas.

Turkson previously received a grant for research that led to the development of BP-1-102, a novel anticancer drug that essentially pulls apart the Stat3 protein, rendering it ineffective in promoting the growth of tumors.

“The development of BP-1-102 was groundbreaking but we are looking to further increase its potency and solubility, decrease its rate of metabolism and improve its stability in the body,” said Turkson. “This will require a team effort and the collaboration of several experts, so we can create a more efficient and effective treatment of tumors caused by the Stat3 protein.”

Working with Ho Leung Ng, an assistant professor in the UH Mānoa chemistry department, the research utilizes an imaging approach called x-ray crystallography to provide a detailed look at how the Stat3 inhibitor latches onto proteins.

Turkson’s previous research can be found in the May 22, 2012 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Adapted from a University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center news release.