In 2018, Iona Black received funding to carry out research into the molecule Tankyrase which plays a role in the growth of cancer cells.
How will this research make a difference?
Tankyrase is involved in a process known as scaffolding, where two or more cellular signals are brought together in a stable structure. Iona plans to use a variety of structural biology and drug discovery techniques to find probes that could stop the scaffolding ability of Tankyrase, preventing signals being sent out that can promote cell growth.
These chemical probes will then be tested in cancer cells grown in the lab, to see what effect blocking the Tankyrase scaffolding functions has. This is a crucial step towards the design of drugs that could one day be used in cancer patients.