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Targeting CDH1 deficient cells using synthetic lethal drugs

Researcher profiles:

Unraveling tumour suppression

E-cadherin belongs to a class of proteins called tumour suppressors.  They provide normal cells with brakes to protect against cells growing out of control and becoming cancers. Mutation of the gene that encodes E-cadherin (CDH1) is frequently seen in tumours. This leads to tumours with increased ability to survive and invade other tissues.

Finding vulnerabilities in tumour cells

We propose that the loss of E-cadherin creates vulnerabilities in the tumour cells that could be targeted with drugs. In this project we are systematically searching for proteins which, if inactivated, will not affect cells with normal levels of E-cadherin but will lead to the death of cancerous cells lacking E-cadherin. This is known as a synthetic lethal relationship.

Trans-tasman collaborations to find improved treatments

In collaborations with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, in Melbourne, we are conducting a screen to identify drugs active against these alternative targets. We predict that these new drugs will be highly active against many common tumour types and will produce fewer side effects than standard chemotherapies.

Supporting research in Louis' memory

In 2017 Louis Fouchault was diagnosed with gastric cancer. Upon his death, Louis' friends and family raised funds which were donated to CTCR to further our work with synthetic lethal drugs which will one day benefit his nieces and nephews.

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