FENS Seminars – Assoc. Prof. Ömer Faruk Karataş

27 October 2023
14:00 - 15:00

Assoc. Prof. Omer Faruk Karataş (Erzurum Technical University, Molecular Biology and Genetics) will be the next guest of KHAS Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences seminar series with his speech “From Molecular Pathogenesis to Drug Design; POFUT1 as a Novel Therapeutic Target for Head and Neck Cancers” on Friday, October 27 at 2 PM on Zoom. The event is open to anyone interested.

Zoom ID: 890 5239 1655

Password: 521259

Abstract: Despite the advances in diagnosis and treatment methods, there has not been a remarkable increase in the overall survival rates of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients in recent years due to diagnosis of disease in the late stages and frequent recurrence of primary lesions. Therefore, more studies are needed to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease and to develop more powerful treatment tools. Recent studies led to the identification of various genetic anomalies that illuminate key oncogenic events in HNSCC carcinogenesis. However, the cause of signaling pathway irregularities associated with carcinogenic initiation and progression of HNSCC has not yet been fully elucidated, and effective treatment methods are not yet available.

Literature and studies conducted by our group revealed that POFUT1 (Protein O­ Fucosyltransferase 1), which is an important oncogene candidate for HNSCC, can function as an important therapeutic target. It is also known to have increased expression in many cancer types. Overall and disease-free survival analysis including all cancer patients in The Cancer Genome Atlas Program database showed that survival was significantly lower in the patient group with high POFUT1 expression. These findings show the importance of POFUT1 in the carcinogenesis processes and the necessity of discovering small molecules that inhibit POFUT 1 to be used in the treatment of different cancer types.

To find a potential anti-cancer agent against HNSCC, we are currently designing and synthesizing POFUT1 inhibitors, and then evaluating their efficacy, and anti-cancer and anti-angiogenic potentials with in vitro and in vivotests.

About the Speaker: After graduating from Bogazici University, Dr. Karatas completed his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees at Yeditepe University and Istanbul University Aziz Sancar Institute of Experimental Medicine, respectively. He was involved in research investigating the epigenetic background of nervous system development in D.melanogaster models for 2 years in IGBMC, Strasbourg, France as a research associate and carried out a funded research program in prostate cancer signal transduction and molecular genetics as a post­ doctoral associate at Baylor College of Medicine, USA. He currently runs his lab with especially a focus on head and neck carcinogenesis. He is a member of the advisory board of TÜBİTAK Health Sciences Research Group since 2021 and co-founder of Ecotech Biotechnology which has produced innovative research products since 2018.

FENS Seminars – M. Buket Darıcı