Dr. Brooks’ research has centered on oncology, anti-cancer therapeutics and development of new targets for drugs through a focus on DNA and the proteins that it controls. She also has project that focus on validating CBD-based products as safe and efficacious for diseases like inflammatory pain and cancer, and collaborates with colleagues on novel drug development for cancer and inflammation.
Targeting Proteins Related to Cancer
Cancer patients often respond initially to a treatment, but after a year or two it can stop working and nothing seems to help.
I have been delving into anti-cancer therapeutics and drug targets for about two decades. I want to find and develop new therapies for cancer patients who don’t have many options.
Pancreatic, breast, ovarian, colorectal and lymphoma cancers have high-value druggable targets that people haven’t been able to hit before. My team and I are taking a new approach and targeting the DNA that makes these high-value druggable proteins.
Proteins are molecules in cells that are required for the structure, function and regulation of the body. We focus on DNA structures that can turn on or off the making of proteins related to cancer. I look into the DNA shapes – every one is a bit unique – and what they do, and then I can start finding therapeutics to control them and apply them to whatever cancer is relevant.
We’re actually drugging the DNA so you never even make the key protein and we get it right at its source. DNA is more stable than proteins and can require lower doses. It is important to realize that just because a protein is mutated or changed somehow in a cancer, it doesn’t mean that blocking it with a drug will kill the cancer, so we also work to make sure that targeting these key cancer proteins is safe and works with other chemotherapies for each cancer type.
We’re seeing progress. For the lymphoma, breast and ovarian cancer target, we’ve developed a a piece of DNA therapeutic and we’re working with other researchers to get it into the cells better and improve delivery. On the pancreatic cancer side, we are trying to develop a drug versus going the DNA route.