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Striving for a cancer-free future

Targeting transcriptional addiction for cancer therapy

Lead researcher

Prof Ricky Johnstone, A/Prof Jake Shortt

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Tumour type:

Years funded

What is the project?

Transcriptional elongation is an essential biological process that is weakened during tumour development. The process is controlled by kinases such as CDK9. We’ve demonstrated that targeting this using a clinical compound was successful in pre-clinical mouse models of lymphoma and acute-myeloid leukaemia. We will address whether inhibiting CDK9 is sufficient through using genetic screens.

What is the need?

This study will build on our extensive data and recently published findings demonstrating that small molecule CDKi that target CDK9 are effective against some leukemias and lymphomas. Our data to date supports our theory that targeting transcriptional elongation through inhibiting CDK9 is a viable and exciting therapeutic strategy.

What are you trying to achieve?

We believe that sustained transcriptional elongation driven by CDK9 is a targetable dependency of tumors driven by MYC and will provide a new treatment option for patients with MYC dependent malignancies.

Funding Body

Cancer Council Victoria Research Grant