USC Center for Molecular Pathways and Drug Discovery

USC Center for Molecular Pathways and Drug Discovery

The Keck School of Medicine of USC, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital and Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC proudly introduce the establishment of a unique new center focused on accelerating the pace of drug discovery and development of less toxic and more effective therapies for the treatment of cancer and other diseases.

Translating science into improved treatment for patients

The USC Center for Molecular Pathways and Drug Discovery is the result of a collaboration between two gifted faculty members, Michael Kahn, Ph.D., a research scientist and Heinz-Josef Lenz, M.D., a clinical translational research investigator. Their work has resulted in the identification of novel pathways and new drug therapies for the treatment of cancer and other diseases. The complementary partnership of Drs. Kahn and Lenz represents the important translation of discoveries made in basic science labs into improved treatment strategies for patients.

Kahn’s and Lenz’s research concentrates on communication pathways that diseases use to grow and thrive. Most cancer research has focused on inhibiting one target at a time. Cancer cells, with their voracious survival instincts, find ways to bypass single targets that have been shut down by drug treatment. By focusing on networks of targets — or pathways — the USC Center for Molecular Pathways and Drug Discovery intends to block entire pathways and correct the cells’ communication “maps.”

A marriage between clinical research and basic science

The new center is a unique marriage between clinical research and basic science, a real bench-to-bedside approach. The Center’s goal is to be the mechanism, or pipeline, for faster translation of novel promising molecules to bring their benefits into the clinic more rapidly.

One of the first products slated to come from the USC Center for Molecular Pathways and Drug Discovery and into the clinic will be the first drug specifically targeting the Wnt pathway, a network of proteins that is fundamental in the development of all major human organs, as well as blood diseases such as leukemia, and solid tumors such as breast and colorectal cancer.

A clinical trial to prove effectiveness in humans is planned to start in the summer of 2010.

For more information on supporting the USC Center for Molecular Pathways and Drug Discovery, visit the Donation Page or call Tina Pakfar at (323) 865- 0725, or e-mail tpakfar@usc.edu.



Michael Kahn, Ph.D.
Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology
Provost’s professor of medicine and pharmacy
Co-leader of the USC GI-Oncology program



Heinz-Josef Lenz, M.D.
Professor of medicine and preventive medicine
Associate director of clinical research at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
Kathryn M. Balakrishnan Endowed Chair for Cancer Research
Co-leader of the USC GI-Oncology program

University of Southern California University of Southern California