Our Current Research:
Athenese scientists use novel ways to discover drugs to treat cancer. Our research focus are the molecular targets in the cell cycle. These proteins play critical roles in the events that take place in the cell cycle that lead to the cell dividing and forming two cells from the original single cell. This process requires the coordinated interaction of a number of different proteins that are responsible for the duplication of the cell's genetic material (DNA) along with all other cellular components that are necessary to ensure the appropriate division and survival of the single cell into two distinct 'daughter' cells.
The cell cycle is a highly regulated series of events, controlled by proteins that act at various stages to the two daughter cells has not been damaged while other proteins prevent uncontrolled cell division. Checkpoints exist within the cell cycle, which are used by the cell to monitor and regulate the progress of the cell as it goes through the cell cycle. These checkpoints hold the cell at specific points in the cell cycle, making sure there are no errors in the duplicated DNA and other cellular processes. If errors are detected, proteins that can correct these errors are activated, allowing the cell to progress to the next part of the cell cycle.
Certain cell cycle components that act in an abnormal manner can lead to tumor formation. Proteins that have acquired mutations due to errors in their genes that have not been corrected may cause the cell to multiply uncontrollably, resulting in a tumor.
Researchers at Athenese have been working to discover chemicals that interact with proteins in the cell cycle that have been shown to play critical roles in the checkpoint processes. Using computer-generated modeling algorithms, we have identified chemicals that can interact with proteins at specific checkpoints within the cell cycle. These chemicals have the ability to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells that are grown in mice. We are currently elucidating the mechanism by which these chemicals act, and determining their effects on other types of cancers.