Training on the Cape

Akhona Vava, Cancer Genomics Lab, ICGEB Cape Town, receives her MSc degree in Medicine with distinction

Akhona Vava, a student in the Cancer Genomics lab at ICGEB Cape Town, has received her MSc degree in Medicine with distinction in
June this year. Her work on the role of defective in Cullin Neddylation 1 Domain containing 1 (DCUN1D1) protein in Prostate Cancer, has been supervised by Luiz Zerbini, Group Leader.

Akhona Vava examined the role of DCUN1D1 in prostate cancer using cell lines, human tissue samples and in vivo animal models. Furthermore, she used Microarray analysis and the Connectivity map database (C-MAP) to determine DCUN1D1 signaling pathways and to identify FDA approved drugs that may affect DCUN1D1 activity that could be used in prostate cancer therapy. Her findings demonstrated that DCUN1D1 is deregulated in prostate cancer cell lines and in 43% of human tissue samples. Inhibition of DCUN1D1 expression resulted in a decrease in proliferation and migration of prostate cancer cell lines and reduced tumour growth in vivo by 58%. She also identified two drugs using the lab's C-MAP approach that are able to inhibit prostate cancer growth in a DCUN1D1 dependent manner. The identification of specific inhibitors of DCUN1D1 will lead to innovative approach to fight prostate cancer. Since the drugs the Group is evaluating are already FDA-approved, successful studies in animal models may enable moving these compounds quickly into clinical trials.

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