Small molecules with affinity for S100A7, a tumorigenic protein in breast cancer

Biochemical events in humans are influenced and triggered by cell signalling pathways and their associated feedback loops. Changes and mutations to members of these signalling pathways can cause cancer to develop. Trouble can also occur when alternative pathways are triggered or when built-in negative feedback (“”shut off””), loops are not triggered. In the case of cancer, the observed uncontrolled cell growth results in tumours that can eventually metastasize and send diseased cells throughout the body resulting in an aggressive, invasive cancer. Before the aggressive stage of cancer is reached, the disease often goes through stages of progressively worsening cancers. In breast cancer, Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), is one such stage prior to invasive disease. With DCIS, the cancer is contained to a duct and has not yet spread to other areas of the breast or body. Research at the BC Cancer Agency’s Deeley Research Centre has revealed two proteins, S100A7 and Jab1, involved in a pathway associated with the transition from DCIS to invasive breast cancer. There is compelling evidence to suggest that if the interaction between S100A7 and Jab1 were prevented or disrupted, the critical signalling pathways would not be triggered and the progress of invasive breast cancer would be stopped. Amanda Whiting is researching the effects of blocking the interactions between S100A7 and Jab1 by using small, drug-like molecules. In particular, Ms. Whiting’s research uses the molecule 2,6-ANS, as the basis for modifications to improve binding to S100A7 and decrease binding to other important body proteins. Her research will provide an expanded understanding of small molecule binding requirements and, in turn, allow for appropriate modifications to the compounds. Moreover, her work explores a potential new target for breast cancer therapy using small molecule inhibitors to disrupt a cancer-associated protein-protein interaction.