The Colorado Center for Drug Discovery recently awarded seven Colorado researchers $216,282 in grants to advance the discovery and development of medications to treat cancer, infectious diseases and other illnesses. Four of those grants were awarded to investigators at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

The 2012 CU Cancer Center recipients include:

Tad Koch, PhD, professor of molecular biophysics at the University of Colorado Boulder, for his project, “Development of a Prodrug for Pancreatic Cancer.” Because pancreatic cancer remains a major challenge to treat and the average five-year survival rate is only six percent, this research will evaluate a potential new drug to treat aggressive pancreatic cancer in a laboratory.

Tin Tin Su, PhD, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at CU Boulder, for her project, “A Pipeline of Translation Inhibitors for Oncology.” Treating cancer with two or more anti-cancer agents is more effective than treating it with just a single strategy. This program will use a new test to identify molecules that can be combined with radiation treatment to increase the effectiveness of therapy.

Xuedong Liu, PhD, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at CU Boulder, for his project, “Development of Proprietary Mps1 Inhibitors for Lung Cancer Therapeutics.”  This research project will evaluate the effectiveness of a new lung cancer treatment. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death in men and women in the world, leading to 1.3 million deaths annually.

Mair Churchill, PhD, professor of molecular biology and pharmacology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, for her project, “Pharmacological inhibition of histone chaperone activity.” Despite recent advances in the treatment of cancer, new approaches are needed. Histone chaperone proteins may play an important role in new treatments. This project will develop ways to block histone chaperone proteins, which are important in gene expression.

The Center for Drug Discovery, also known as C2D2, supports drug discovery research. Including this year’s awards, C2D2 has provided more than $660,000 to 11 drug discovery programs from all major research institutions in Colorado. C2D2 was created in 2010 as part of Colorado’s five-year Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program. The organization is dedicated to providing research support to promising drug discovery related programs in Colorado.