Ygal Haupt

veski innovation fellow

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Professor Ygal Haupt was awarded a veski innovation fellowship in February 2009.

Professor Haupt returned from the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical Jerusalem to head up a new laboratory in Tumour Suppressor Biology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Research project: Regulation of tumour suppression

The most important agent of the body for fighting cancer is the cellular protein p53. It plays a key role in responding to assaults that damage DNA. Upon activation, p53 acts to eliminate cells of cancerous potential by halting their growth. In more than 50% of all human cancers, it loses its anticancer properties through mutation. In an insidious manner, mutation of p53 not only robs it of its ability to prevent cancer, but also confers it with new cancer promoting capacity. To better treat cancer we need to understand how both normal p53 and mutant p53 are controlled. Detailed dissection of the regulatory mechanisms of both forms of p53 is allowing us to identify new potential therapeutic anticancer targets.

A key partner of both normal and mutant p53 is the promyelocytic protein, PML. Ygal’s team recently identified an important mechanism by which PML levels are controlled. They intend to explore the implications of this regulation further and examine how it influences p53. Human cancers will be screened for the involvement of these proteins, to gain new insights into cancer onset. Ygal intends to identify small molecules that are able to control the levels of these anti-cancer agents through a high throughput screen and translate this knowledge to the clinic. The intended practical outcome of these studies is to aid cancer diagnosis and provide new anti-cancer drugs.

My research will shed light on the regulation of p53 in health and disease and ultimately lead to new, diagnostic bio markers for early cancer detection and to new classes of anti-cancer drugs.

Professor Ygal Haupt, 2009