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Working Toward New Cancer Treatments

Carlos Molina in lab
Carlos Molina

With the help of a nearly $1.3 million research advancement award from the National Institutes of Health, Biology Professor Carlos Molina will be able to further develop his career as a cancer researcher and enhance his research productivity in order to eventually transition to NIH Research Project Grant support.

Molina will receive $324,488 for the first year of a four-year Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) award for his project “Post-translational Regulation of Inducible cAMP Early Repressor and its Implications in Cancer.” Molina states that this funding “will allow me to dedicate four years to collecting, analyzing and reporting data for this project.”

“I’m studying how an unusual protein with tumor suppression activities in normal cells is eliminated or misplaced in cancer cells,” explains Molina, whose students will be involved in his research. “The outcomes of this research will set the stage for testing pharmacological agents that will block the destruction and abnormal cellular localization of this protein as a potential — and novel — cancer treatment.”

According to Molina, even though Inducible cAMP Early Repressor, or ICER, functions like a tumor suppressor, there is no genetic evidence to show that it is a bona fide tumor suppressor gene product. He thus surmises that altered post-translational events could be responsible for observed abnormalities of ICER protein expression in cancer cells.

Molina’s prior research, which set the stage for this grant-funded work, involved studying the ovaries of transgenic zebrafish with a focus on the role of genes with ovarian function. “Now that I have a state-of-the-art laboratory and zebrafish facility at Montclair State, I am positioned to use my preliminary research results to fully explore the role of the transcriptional repressor ICER in cancer,” he explains.

Molina hopes that ultimately the new project will serve as the basis for more extensive analyses of multicomponent complexes associated with the regulation of ICER in cancer cells, as well as spur the development of effective new therapeutic cancer treatments.