Damon Runyon Researchers

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Qinheng Zheng, PhD

Dr. Zheng is developing small molecules that selectively inhibit the protein K-Ras(G12D). Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most lethal common cancer due to the infrequency of early diagnosis and the lack of targeted or immune therapies. A high percentage (>90%) of PDAC patients harbor KRAS mutations, with the majority expressing the K-Ras(G12D) missense mutation. Despite extensive drug discovery efforts across academia and industry, there are no approved drugs directly targeting oncogenic K-Ras(G12D). K-Ras lacks an apparent surface topology for reversible small molecule binding, leading to its notorious characterization as “undruggable.” Dr. Zheng is searching for small molecules that form a permanent bond with the mutant protein at its missense site and inhibit its interaction with effector proteins.

Project title: "Drugging K-Ras(G12D) with targeted covalent inhibitors"
Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Named Award: Connie and Bob Lurie Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Kevan M. Shokat, PhD
Cancer Type: Colorectal, Lung, Pancreatic
Research Area: Chemical Biology