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.