PhD Shaima Abdalla


Despite advancements in cancer treatment, acquired drug resistance remains a challenge. In the last three decades, a significant shift in cancer therapeutics focused on targeted therapies of key oncogenic signalling pathways. Although these approaches have been initially promising, the heterogeneity of cancer and its ability to adapt can allow cancer cells to become resistant. Therefore, it is imperative to re-think how these pathways can be targeted with novel treatments. Interestingly, E-Twenty-Six (ETS) transcription factors are downstream mediators of major signal transduction pathways. Extensive evidence has associated ETS transcription factors with haematological cancers and solid tumours. They have been immensely reported to play a significant role in multiple malignancies, in which they are translocated, overexpressed or create a fusion with other proteins. ETS transcription factors have also been described to induce angiogenesis, and the most recent ground-breaking discovery demonstrated that novel telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter mutations create a de novo ETS binding motif. Collectively, this presents the ETS family as an attractive tumour target. Here, we study the full length ETS factors and characterize them with biochemical analyses. Determine the assembly of ETS complex on the mutant TERT promoters. To target ETS proteins, two different approaches are used in collaboration with Shanghai Tech University: (1) a screen on ETS1-DBD from a DNA Encoded Library (2) Customization and design of Oligonucleotide-PROTAC.



I’m a molecular biologist (BSc in Biotechnology, University of Sharjah) with specialization in cancer research (Oncology Master, VU Amsterdam). During my undergraduate studies I finished multiple international internships at the University of Kent, LACDR and IONTEK. In 2019, I joined the LUMC for my Master’s minor internship at mdlz department where I investigated the role of Endoglin (CD105) loss in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. For my Master’s thesis I moved to the CCB where I joined Baker’s Lab to characterize the ETS transcription factors and study their role in cancer-specific TERT promoter mutations. In 2022 I was awarded a grant by the UAE Ministry of Education to continue on studying the ETS family for my PhD.



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