Although mutations fueling most types of cancer have been identified, therapies directed toward specific targets are yielding results far below expectations. Major challenges for effective treatments are tumor heterogeneity and the remarkable plasticity of cancer cells. Clearly, the failure of new drugs in clinical trials is a consequence of our limited understanding of tumor cell biology and resilience. Identifying proteins able alone to connect and modulate more than just one biological pathway would represent a possible game-changing step forward to tackle cancer.
The Coppola lab is studying the biological role of a new scaffold protein named RanBP9, which interacts with many major players of the hallmarks of cancer. Present in the cell nucleus and cytoplasm, RanBP9 appears to function as a central node receiving extracellular cues and coordinating signaling of all different cellular circuits, both acutely and in the long term. Incredibly, this molecule is not well studied, and its biological functions are still mysterious.
Dr. Dario Palmieri, PhD, research scientist
Mario Scarpa, visiting fellow
Rexhep Uka, visiting fellow