Kok Yung Lee
Targeting cancer stem cells through small molecule inhibition of c-flip
Cancer stem cells has been found to express high levels of c-FLIP (cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein), a protein known to disrupt and terminate DISC (death-inducing signalling complex) formation in the extrinsic apoptotic pathway. The suppression of extrinsic apoptotic activity by c-FLIP plays a significant role in cancer stem cell survival, acting as a shield against death ligands such as TRAIL (TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand). Currently there is no known direct inhibitor of c-FLIP, even though its biological role has been widely studied. My project aims to develop a selective small molecule inhibitor of c-FLIP, used to restore extrinsic apoptotic activity in cancer stem cells, as a strategy to selectively kill cancer stem cells. The small molecule inhibitor will be created and refined through means including but not limited to homology modelling, in silico screening, analogue synthesis, in vitro testing, and lead optimisation.
My interests lie within the field of medicinal chemistry, where I strive to design and synthesise new drugs with potential to treat diseases not limited to cancer. As a recent year 2017 MPharm graduate from Cardiff University, I have returned to my alma mater to pursue my PhD under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Westwell.