Associate professor receives Discover Award for research

December 5, 2014 | News, Research, UToday, Medicine and Life Sciences
By Cassandra DeYoung

The Ohio Cancer Research Associates recognized Dr. Steve Sucheck, UT associate professor of chemistry, with the Discover Award at the Annual Grand Illusions Sauté in October.



This award honors Sucheck’s research for receiving funds from the National Institutes of Health and gaining recognition at the national level.

Sucheck’s work was originally funded by the Ohio Cancer Research Associates, an organization that generates cancer awareness and fund seed money for research projects.

Over the last nine years, Sucheck has been working on two main projects.

The first project may lead to improved treatments for cancer. It involves using protein-carbohydrate interactions to manipulate immune responses. It is believed that anti-cancer treatments can be improved by directing weak tumor antigens to antigen-presenting cells — a critical step in generating an immune-based antitumor effect.

“We have grown this program in collaboration with immunologist Dr. Katherine Wall [professor and chair of the UT Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry] and have recently found our vaccine design enhances both the cell-mediated and antibody responses, which are both important for killing cancer cells,” Sucheck said. “We are now beginning to synthesize next-generation immunotherapeutics that we believe will offer further advantages.”

The second project may lead to therapies to treat tuberculosis. It involves studying enzyme inhibitors in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the infectious etiological agent of TB. This work has become increasingly urgent over the years due to the drug-resistant strains of Mtb making many cases of TB almost impossible to treat.

“In this program, we have been working closely with biochemist and structural biologist Dr. Donald Ronning [UT associate professor of chemistry], who has been able to solve the X-ray structures of a number of our enzyme inhibitors bound to these enzymes,” Sucheck said. “These structural studies will allow us to design improved inhibitors as we move forward.”

Together, these two programs have generated $2.4 million for research funding at The University of Toledo.

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