Doctoral fellow - Unit for Translational Research in Oncology/The Department of Diagnostic Sciences – UGent - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Principal Investigators: prof. Steven Goossens (PhD)
Acute leukemia is an aggressive cancer with multiple subtypes. It affects healthy patients (de novo) as well as patients that already have an underlying hematological disorder, as a side-effect of chemo/radiation therapy. The myeloid subtype hits an older population, while the lymphoblastic subtype is the most common childhood cancer. Although patient-specific intensification of the chemotherapeutic regime and stem cell transplantation has led to improved outcomes for younger patients, prognosis in adults remains poor and the majority of these patients die of relapsed, refractory disease. Current research efforts are focused on the search for novel therapeutic targets and the development of more effective and less toxic anti-leukemic drugs.
In my research, I aim to target key transcription factors in important leukemia pathways. As such, we are convinced that temporal perturbation of their function, could represent a novel therapeutic opportunity for acute leukemia patients. In general, transcription factors are considered as ‘undruggable’ according to conventional approaches, and often seen as too risk-full candidates to be explored in the drug-discovery pipelines of pharmaceutical companies. Nevertheless, advances in the field, e.g. the introduction of small-molecule protein-protein/DNA interaction disruptors and proteolysis-targeted chimaeras (PROTAC), have changed the definition of ’druggable’ over the last years. New technologies give us the opportunity to explore novel assays e.g. nanoBRET, thermal shift assays, AlphaScreen technology,… that pave the way for developing therapeutic strategies targeting transcription factors.