Sang-Oh Yoon, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria, was recently awarded a $1.84 million grant by the National Institutes of Health. The five-year project, entitled “Feedback loop and crosstalk in the mTORC1/2 signaling network,” will help identify cancer’s resistance mechanism toward mTOR-targeting drugs and identify strategies to overcome this resistance and prevent tumor recurrence.

The recent advent of targeted cancer therapy has shed light on new therapy against metastatic and advanced cancer that is not conducive to conventional cancer treatments, such as surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. mTOR (mechanisitic Target Of Rapamycin) is considered a master regulator of cell growth. Drugs that target mTOR are FDA-approved and actively used in clinics to treat cancers. One major problem with this type of therapy is cancer’s resistance to drugs. Tumors in many patients eventually become resistant to these drugs and recur. Researchers now seek to determine why some cancers are resistant to targeted cancer drugs and how to overcome the resistance for successful treatment.

Yoon is a faculty member in the Cancer Biology and Pharmacology Department at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria. His lab interest is the biochemical and molecular decoding of cancer cell signaling to form a strong basis for cancer therapeutics.