UH Cancer Center researchers create new anti-cancer drug

Innovative computer modeling techniques utilized in drug development

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Bryan T. Cheplic, 808-564-5911
Public Information Officer, Cancer Center
Kevin Cassel, 808-564-5916
Education Coordinator, Cancer Center
Posted: May 22, 2012

James Turkson
James Turkson


A team of University of Hawaii Cancer Center scientists led by James Turkson, Ph.D., has created a new type of anti-cancer drug named BP-1-102.  The drug, which can be orally administered, targets a key protection that triggers the development of many types of cancer including lung, breast and skin.


The development of BP-1-102 was guided by the research team's computer-based molecular analysis of the cancer causing Stat 3 protein that leads to cancer by promoting abnormal cell growth in otherwise healthy cells.


“The molecular structure of the hyperactive Stat3 protein basically resembles two cars that are joined together side-by-side,” said Professor Turkson. “We then utilized a computer program that creates molecular models of potential drugs engaging in binding to the Stat3 protein to craft the BP-1-102 drug, which literally pulls apart the Stat3 protein rendering it ineffective in causing cancer.”


A unique feature of BP-1-102 is that it remains highly effective against cancer even when administered in oral form.  Presently, most anti-cancer drugs require intravenous (IV) administration in a clinic or hospital setting that increases the financial, physical and emotional burdens on cancer patients. In its experimental form, BP-1-102 has shown promise in treating breast and lung cancers.


Currently, breast and lung cancers are two of the most commonly diagnosed cancers accounting for nearly half a million cases per year in the U.S. with over 200,000 deaths attributed to these diseases. In Hawaii, there are approximately 1,500 cases diagnosed and over 600 deaths attributed to breast and lung cancers every year. 


Professor Turkson is a recent and welcome addition to the UH Cancer Center faculty. His innovative and ground-breaking research focuses on developing novel anticancer drugs based on targeting signal transduction and apoptosis pathways. The research article is published in the May 22 edition of the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" journal, which can also be accessed online at http://www.pnas.org/.