Fox Chase Cancer Center Graduate Student Billy Truong Recognized for Third Year in a Row With American Society of Hematology Abstract Achievement Award

Billy Truong
Billy Truong was awarded the American Society of Hematology Abstract Achievement Award for the third year in a row at the 65th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition.

PHILADELPHIA (December 11, 2023) — Fox Chase Cancer Center graduate student Billy Truong was awarded the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Abstract Achievement Award for the third year in a row for his study on targeting substrate interactions of the ERK2 protein that drive myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN).

These neoplasms are a type of condition in which bone marrow makes too many red blood cells, platelets, and some white blood cells. Certain MPNs may eventually become acute myeloid leukemia.

“I am very grateful to be part of this study, which allowed me to seek new ways to address major roadblocks in cancer such as therapy resistance,” said Truong, who is working toward his doctoral degree in the lab of David Wiest, PhD, Scientific Director of the Research Institute of Fox Chase and a Professor in the Nuclear Dynamics and Cancer Research Program.

Although existing treatments provide some respite to patients, drug resistance frequently occurs during treatment. This is particularly evident with drugs targeting ERK2’s active site, a kinase essential for cellular survival and immune responses.

Instead of inhibiting kinase activity, Truong’s novel approach focuses on attenuating ERK2 interaction with cancer-driving substrates. Consequently, this strategy avoids toxicities and resistance linked to active site inhibitors.

Building upon previous work exploring ERK2 substrates interacting with the common docking site (D-domain) that cause MPNs or the DEF binding pocket (DBP domain) that hinder MPN progression, Truong’s latest study reveals a new class of D-domain-specific inhibitors. These inhibitors demonstrate increased efficacy and potency against patient-derived MPNs compared to conventional ERK active site inhibitors.

“I am honored to be receiving the Abstract Achievement Award from the American Society of Hematology for the third time. The advances that we made support a collective mission here at the center to discover and investigate novel strategies to target incurable cancers,” Truong said.

The ASH Abstract Achievement Award is a merit-based award for trainees who are the first author and presenter on a high-scoring annual meeting abstract.

Truong shared the findings from his award-winning abstract, “Divergent Functions of ERK2 Substrate Binding Modalities in Myeloproliferative Neoplasms,” in an oral presentation at this year’s ASH meeting, which is being held December 9-12 in San Diego.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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