Icon for: Scott Eron


University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Years in Grad School: 2
Judges’ Queries and Presenter’s Replies
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Presentation Discussion
  • Icon for: Lee McDavid

    Lee McDavid

    Project Coordinator
    May 23, 2012 | 05:06 p.m.

    What are the implications of understanding apoptosis better for disease treatment?

  • Icon for: Scott Eron

    Scott Eron

    Lead Presenter
    May 23, 2012 | 10:05 p.m.

    Great question! By understanding the regulation of caspases and how they control apoptosis we can better recognize the diseased state and ways to enhance treatment. To elaborate, I can think of two types of examples: (1) Imagine small molecules being able to control whether a cell lives or dies. In neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s disease, control of caspase activity could prevent the excess apoptosis that occurs as a result of these diseases. Conversely, many cancer cells overexpress certain kinases that phosphorylate caspases and make the cell immune to cell death. For example, PAK2 is overexpressed in a variety of cancer cell lines and inactivates caspase-7 via phosphorylation. This immunity to apoptosis poses a serious threat to cancer therapies that rely on cell death. However, if you administered a small molecule drug that activated caspase-7 it could enhance other therapeutic treatments. (2) Recently there have been a plethora of novel strategies to deliver proteins. Delivery of an executioner caspase, specifically to tumors, would result in apoptosis events in cancerous cells.

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