February 23, 2007

Salk’s Hunter next Discovery lecturer

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Salk’s Hunter next Discovery lecturer

Tony Hunter, Ph.D., whose research spurred the development of a new class of targeted cancer drugs, will deliver the next Vanderbilt Discovery Lecture on Thursday, March 1.

Hunter, professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., will discuss “Signal Transduction in Disease and the Response to DNA Damage,” at 4 p.m. in 208 Light Hall.

In 1979, Hunter discovered that phosphate groups can be attached to tyrosine, one of the 20 amino acids that make up proteins. This process of tyrosine phosphorylation, he found, is a chemical “on-off” switch that can lead to out-of-control cancerous growth.

Discovery of this important signaling mechanism ultimately led to the development of cancer drugs such as Gleevec, Iressa and Tarceva, which inhibit the phosphate-attaching enzymes, called tyrosine kinases.

Since then, Hunter and his colleagues have identified tumor-generated factors that can lead to resistance to cancer treatment, and which are potential targets for new cancer drugs.

For a complete schedule of the Discovery Lecture Series and archived video of previous lectures, go to www.mc.vander-bilt.edu/discoveryseries.