Cluster 1: Mimicking Natural Protein Protein Interactions to Target Cancer and Other Diseases



Dr. Robert Spitale, Pharmaceutical Sciences, UCI

Dr. Scott Atwood, Developmental and Cell Biology, UCI

Prerequisites: High School Biology

Course Description:
One of the largest and most cutting-edge fields in medicine and pharmaceutical sciences is focused on treating patients and eradicating human disease. From lowering cholesterol to wiping out cancer, designing drugs that interact with a specific cellular target drives a multi-billion-dollar industry. Expanding beyond small molecule drugs, cutting-edge therapies can be designed by understanding how potential targets engage their normal interactions. In this course, we will focus on an important class of proteins, called kinases, which control many signaling events in cancer. You will learn how to study the structure of kinases and their targets to formulate hypotheses on how proteins can be designed as drug-mimicking inhibitors. You will also learn about the biology and chemistry behind the drug-making process, design and synthesize your own protein-based drug, and carry out assays to test how well your drug works on the identified biological target. This hands-on course will explore the basics of protein-based drug design and how simple biological targets weave complex webs to maintain the engine of the cell. You will learn to use molecular biology techniques to develop a novel drug that targets a specific human disease with the potential to save lives.

Project/Presentation Requirement:
All participants, working in pairs, will produce a scientific/engineering project drawn from the subject matter in their cluster. Projects may be based upon field study during COSMOS. In accordance with the COSMOS requirement, students will present their findings in a poster format at the COSMOS symposium.