Dr. John Tomich
The Tomich laboratory is involved in two cancer-related projects. The first focuses on peptidases, which function to fragment cellular proteins. Peptidases are hyperactive in cancer cells, and, in some cases, are diagnostic and can indicate the effectiveness of chemotherapy. For example, the peptidase prostate-specific antigen is used as a valuable marker for prostate cancer. We are using chemical and biochemical methods to study the functions of cancer-relevant peptidases. A second area examines channel proteins, which form selective pores in the membranes that surround all cells, and that control the movement of some molecules into and out of the cell. They are involved in growth regulation, and in many cases, abnormalities in their function result in cancer. Our principle focus is on chloride selective channels. The studies provide structural and physiological data on how channels form in membranes and how their function can be modulated by pharmacological agents. Understanding how these channels assemble and function should provide approaches for modulating channel activity in cancer.