About the Lab
The Li lab aims to elucidate the role of genetic and environmental etiological factors in cancer and to develop first-in-class therapeutic interventions targeting major oncoproteins and tumor antigens using artificial intelligence and immunologic approaches.
Environmental carcinogens and inherited or somatic mutations exhibit remarkable tissue-specificity as they cause cancer in specific organs, and not in other parts of the body. Tissue specificity in cancer etiology is largely the rule, not the exception. Li lab is investigating how a p53 genetic variant and an herbicide (glyphosate) drive oncogenic signaling in a tissue-specific manner.
Targeting Top 20 p53 Mutants
The p53 tumor suppressor is the most frequently mutated gene in cancer. Despite countless attempts, no drugs targeting the intracellular mutant p53 are available. All current drug development endeavors are based on the premise that mutations causes p53 conformational changes, which shall be rectified to its native form using small compounds - a lofty goal never accomplished. Li lab entertains the opposite - p53 mutants and their conformations shall be targeted as is, using monoclonal antibodies. We envisage that systemic delivery of novel antibodies targeting a mutant p53, but not the wild-type p53, are beneficial to cancer patients carrying the specific mutant.
Artificial Intelligence in Drug Discovery
MYD88 is a driver oncogene frequently mutated in B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) is a protein receptor of the immunoglobulin superfamily that functions as an immune checkpoint and downregulates immune responses in T cells. Using an industry-leading artificial intelligence technology, Li lab is developing small chemicals to target MYD88 and CTLA-4 effectively with fewer side effects.