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VCU Massey Cancer Center


Massey director awarded $3.2M to inform the development of novel therapies for blood disorders

Gordon Ginder, M.D.

VCU Massey Cancer Center Director Gordon Ginder, M.D., was awarded more than $3 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to facilitate the development of novel therapies for multiple blood disorders, which could provide insights for the future treatment of hematologic cancers. 

Ginder, the Jeanette and Eric Lipman Chair in Oncology and member of the Cancer Molecular Genetics research program at Massey, was awarded a $3.2 million multi-PI R01 grant to identify molecular targets for the development of more effective therapies for sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia, inherited conditions both characterized by abnormalities of hemoglobin in a person’s blood. Hemoglobin is the protein responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body.

Specifically, Ginder’s project will aim to discover how a protein (MBD2) and a multi-protein complex (NuRD) interact to prevent the production of fetal hemoglobin in adult red blood cells.

By better understanding the protein-protein exchanges among components of the MBD2-NuRD chromatin remodeling complex, Ginder hopes this research can serve to identify and validate targets for safe therapeutic activation of fetal hemoglobin expression in sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia.

Previous research has demonstrated that epigenetic mechanisms (or changes in the genes expressed in a person that do not involve changes in the genes’ DNA sequence) are pivotal to the genetic regulation of hemoglobin production. The primary epigenetic mechanisms involved in sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia are similar to those in the development of many blood cancers and other types of cancer.

“Ultimately, my hope is that the findings of this research will also impact hematologic malignancies and other cancers with the creation of novel therapies for leukemia and breast cancer, to name a few,” Ginder said.

As a multi-PI award, this five-year R01 grant is shared with David C. Williams, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of North Carolina.

Written by: Blake Belden

Posted on: September 25, 2018