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Patrick Gunning recognized with Connaught Innovation Award

Professor Patrick Gunning of the department of chemical and physical sciences at the University of Toronto Mississauga has received a Connaught Innovation Award for his team's work on HDAC6 inhibitors to treat hematological malignancies – cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes.

A Canada Research Chair in Medicinal Chemistry and the director of the Centre for Medicinal Chemistry, Gunning has founded three pharmaceutical companies with more than $22 million in funding and has developed a dynamic and diverse medicinal chemistry program targeting protein-protein interactions.

His team develops inhibitors of proteins that drive the rarest and most lethal human cancers, including glioblastoma, acute myeloid leukemia, multiple myeloma, and refractory medulloblastoma.

“We have spent four years building a drug discovery platform that has afforded highly selective HDAC6 inhibitors,” Gunning says. “Their improved safety profile and well-retained efficacy allows for broader dosing regimens to be achieved while mitigating severe side effects from off-target inhibition.”

Studies have shown the HDAC6 inhibitors have a superior synergy and safety window than current HDAC inhibitors, Gunning says.

“Given these promising findings, we aim to improve selectivity margin, anticancer effects and oral exposure.”

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