David A. Horne, Ph.D., chair of molecular medicine, has been named co-leader of City of Hope’s Developmental Cancer Therapeutics (DCT) Program.
Horne oversees the program’s laboratory research and therapeutic development side of the program, while DCT co-leader Yun Yen, M.D., Ph.D., Dr. & Mrs. Allen Y. Chao Chair in Developmental Cancer Therapeutics and chair of clinical and molecular pharmacology, oversees clinical research. Richard Jove, Ph.D., recently relinquished his role as DCT co-leader due to increased responsibilities as director of Beckman Research Institute and deputy director of the cancer center.
One of the goals of the DCT program is to identify and discover selective cancer-fighting, small molecules and develop them into novel therapies. More than a dozen compounds discovered by City of Hope researchers are now in active development, and more are being identified and evaluated. The program also partners with biotech and drug companies, and other institutions to provide expertise and manage the process of getting laboratory discoveries into clinical use.
“City of Hope’s Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Program is a multidisciplinary endeavor that fully utilizes everyone’s expertise across the institution,” said Horne. “Our integrated approach to developing and refining potential new treatments enables us to rapidly and efficiently bring more targeted therapies to patients.”
DCT depends on several core facilities and programs at the institution, he noted. Developing a drug may depend on the High Throughput Screening Core Facility, bioinformatics and molecular modeling identify compounds that are active against a target, for example. Scientists can also use the X-ray Crystallography Core Facility to narrow down detailed molecular interactions, which is critical to rational drug design.
The Synthetic and Biopolymer Chemistry Core can create different versions of active compounds. After additional laboratory and preclinical testing, the Phase I Program conducts early stage clinical trials. Clinical and laboratory researchers collaborate to continually refine and test these potential drugs through the three phases of clinical trials that can lead to approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Horne is an internationally recognized leader in the field of natural products synthesis, particularly in the areas of biologically active marine alkaloids and medicinal chemistry.