Experimental Therapeutics Highlights for January 31, 2024
TXNRD1 enzyme drives innate immune response in senescent cells, with implications for aging and cancer
Chronic inflammation associated with aging — called inflammaging — contributes to cancer development and progression. Cellular senescence, a state in which cells have lost their ability to divide and multiply, also regulates cancer and tissue aging by secreting proinflammatory factors. There is evidence to suggest that TXNRD1, an enzyme regulating cellular redox, is implicated in tissue aging. In a new study, Rugang Zhang, Ph.D., and colleagues discovered that TXNRD1 drives inflammaging through the cGAS-STING pathway in a senescence-dependent manner that is distinct from its activity as a redox enzyme. Blocking the TXNRD1 interaction with cGAS using a specific inhibitor lowered markers of inflammaging in preclinical models, suggesting that the TXNRD1-cGAS interaction is a potential therapeutic target for both tissue aging and cancer. Learn more in Nature Aging.
Please welcome Katherine Robinson, Sr. Administrative Assistant
Please join us in welcoming Katherine Robinson to our team! Katherine is a new senior administrative assistant for Experimental Therapeutics. She is an external hire who comes to us from the field of oil & gas. She has extensive experience as an office manager and an executive assistant, with over a decade of experience in administrative support that includes both private sector and university settings. We are excited to have her join the team and look forward to working with her.
New Experimental Therapeutics Department Administrator: Bao Huong Hoang
We are pleased to announce that Bao Huong Hoang has joined Experimental Therapeutics as department administrator effective January 16, 2024. Bao started at MD Anderson in 2011 as a data coordinator in the Development Office and advanced through research administration roles including grant program coordinator (General Oncology), grants administrator (Sponsored Programs), program director (Imaging Physics), manager, Clinical Protocol Research (Leukemia), and administrative director, Protocol Research (Leukemia).
Since November 2017, as the administrator for the Section of Molecular Hematology and Therapy in the Department of Leukemia, Bao managed the operations, finances, activities and resources for a research program composed of 22 clinical and research faculty, 12 trainees, 33 research classified staff, four administrative team members and five finance and grants support members. Her role included managing funding of over $17.8 million consisting of 11 peer-reviewed grants and 33 additional fully funded research projects from NIH, CPRIT, FDA, DoD, foundations, and industry collaborations. Grants and contracts currently under development or review that she followed up on totaled over $29.3 million. Her scope also included financial management, resource and space planning for the NCI Cancer Center Support Grant-funded Flow Cytometry and Cellular Imaging Facility, Leukemia Sample Bank and individual PI labs.
Before joining Leukemia, she was program director in the Department of Imaging Physics, where she oversaw research administration for the department of over 100 employees, composed of approximately 40 clinical and research faculty, 25 trainees, 30 technical and clinical staff, and 10 admin/finance support members. She helped set up and manage the newly awarded $2.5 million NCI T32 fellowship program, a collaboration between MD Anderson and Rice University. She oversaw finances for the CCSG-funded Small Animal Imaging Facility at MD Anderson that had a capital base of over $15 million in small animal imaging equipment and an annual operating budget of almost $1 million.
Previously, Bao was an outreach coordinator for a national breast cancer nonprofit and was an active member of the American Cancer Society’s Asian Cancer Council. She helped draft and submit Hope Clinic’s Health Resources and Services Administration New Access Point grant application, which awarded $2 million and granted the community clinic Federally Qualified Health Center status. Bao has served as Vice President and Board Member of the Vietnamese Culture and Science Organization. She holds a master’s in business administration and bachelor of science degree in psychology from the University of Houston.
Special thanks to Aaron Walton for his service while he transitioned to his new role as division administrator for Pediatrics.
Welcome to our newest faculty member Simon Eschweiler, Ph.D., Assistant Professor!
Immunotherapies have become crucial treatment options for a variety of cancer types. However, fewer than 30% of people respond to a given therapy. Hence, as low efficacy and widespread immune-related toxicity severely limit both treatment efficacy and combination therapy options, there is urgent need to develop novel immunotherapy targets with an improved efficacy and safety profile.
As a CPRIT scholar and R37 MERIT grant recipient, the overarching objective of the Eschweiler research lab is the identification of novel drivers and inhibitors of immunotherapy treatment efficacy. Its goal is to both develop and evaluate immunotherapies that selectively target these opposing cell populations and to rationally combine these therapies with existing treatment modalities to maximize efficacy while minimizing adverse effects. This is the focal point of his research program, aimed at devising and testing novel immunotherapeutic strategies through mechanism-guided approaches. The lab thus strives to translate promising preclinical findings into meaningful therapies and further test their validity in early clinical trials by closely working with established collaborators and by building new clinical connections.