Drs. Richard Jove and Hua Yu are pioneers in the understanding of the function and possible therapeutic targeting of Stat3, a protein essential to regulating cell growth. In ground-breaking research, Dr. Jove found that under normal circumstances, Stat3 “turns on and off” as needed to stimulate the normal growth of cells. However, in cancer cells, Stat3 remains turned on and stimulates unregulated growth in tumors.
Dr. Yu proved that Stat3 is a promising target for cancer therapy, and in laboratory studies has shown that it can be safely blocked in the entire hematopoietic system. Her research has also found that Stat3 serves as a cloak, keeping the immune system from detecting the tumor cells and allowing the cancer cells to continue growing. In laboratory studies she has blocked Stat3 and found that this causes the immune system to recognize and attack the tumor cells. Ongoing research is devoted to understanding the complexities of Stat3, its structure, mechanisms and effects so that drugs can be developed for use in patients that will specifically target it, shut it off and stimulate the immune system to kill the cancer.
Because Stat3 is found in approximately 60 per cent of all cancer cells, (including virtually all breast cancers), targeting this molecule may provide a broadly applicable and highly effective therapy that could treat many cancers without the need for chemotherapy or radiation.