Applying Molecular Dynamics Simulations to Predict Mutant Kinase Function in Pediatric Oncology

In cancer, proteins called kinases are mutated (or changed) in a way that enables cells to grow continuously, in an unregulated manner. Drugs called targeted therapies can block specific mutated proteins and stop their growth signals. These drugs have revolutionized the treatment of certain difficult to treat cancers. However, when scientists look at kinases, often they see mutations that they cannot associate with a cancer feeding protein. They hey are called “variants of unknown significance” (or VUSs). Dr. Beth Winger and her research team at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) utilize computational and lab-based experiments to predict if mutated kinases are causing cancer growth and if they can be blocked by targeted therapy. If successful, their research will enable targeted therapies to be matched with newly discovered cancer-causing mutations, expanding targeted therapies to many more cancer patients.