A West Virginia Universitycancer researcher is making important progress in understanding how to make cancer treatments more effective.

Dr. Jing Jie Yu is studying how to block particular proteins in the body that can cause resistance to platinum drugs. Platinum drugs are used to treat cancers such as ovarian, lung, testicular, colorectal and melanoma.

Platinum compounds such as cisplatin and carboplatin are frontline drugs in the treatment of cancer,said Yu, research associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry at WVU .They kill tumor cells by damaging DNA , which prevents the malignant cells from replicating. Unfortunately, many patients fail to respond to treatment.

As coordinator of translational studies for new agent development at WVU , Yu hopes to identify a new drug that can regulate the genes and reduce or stop the DNA repair so cancer fighting drugs can be more effective.

If we can unlock the mechanisms of platinum resistance at the molecular levelthat is, identify the genes, proteins and pathways involvedthen we should be able to block the proteins that are causing resistance, thus saving more patients,she said.

Dr. Yu is engaged in research that holds great promise for cancer patients,said Dr. Scot C. Remick, director of WVU s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.Her discoveries help lay the groundwork for improving patient response to chemotherapy.

Yu recently presented her findings at the 10th International Symposium on Platinum Coordination Compounds in Cancer Chemotherapy in Verona, Italy. The symposium attracted researchers who have a vested interest in making platinum-based cancer therapy more effective.

Formerly of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Yu has worked on several research projects focused on ovarian cancer and served as an NCI consultant on smoking control research. Currently, she is a consultant to the NCI drug resistance studies in the Cancer Therapeutics Branch of theCenter for Cancer Research.