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CSU’s Dr. Bin Su Awarded Three-Year NIH Grant for Glioblastoma Research

Leads team to discover drug therapies that can treat aggressive type of brain tumor

Bin Su, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at Cleveland State University’s Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease was recently awarded a new, three-year $445,500 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate a potential treatment for glioblastoma, the most common and malignant brain tumor in which patients generally have poor prognoses despite new surgical techniques and drug therapies.

Dr. Su is the principal investigator on “Targeting Androgen Receptor-HSP27 Signaling in Glioblastoma,” and is collaborating with  Bingcheng Wang, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University director of the Division of Cancer Biology and Department of Medicine, MetroHealth Medical Center; and Justin Durla Lathia, Ph.D., professor, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Lerner Research Institute and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

Dr. Su’s lab has identified specific compounds that may selectively inhibit the Androgen Receptor-HSP27 pathway that contributes to glioblastoma progression. These small molecule compounds can cross the blood brain barrier, which is of critical importance to their effectiveness in treating glioblastoma.

Androgen Receptor-HSP27 is the abbreviation of Heat Shock Protein 27KDa, which is a protein that allows the cancer cells to survive. Inhibitor of HSP27 increases the sensitivity of cancer cells to treatment, allowing for greater success in drug therapy treatment of the cancer cells.

“Collaboration and sharing of ideas and information is critical to advances in research. Glioblastoma tumors are aggressive and very difficult to treat – there is an urgency to find more effective therapies for this type of cancer – but we have hope that our compound candidates showed great capability to move through barriers in the brain to reach the tumor,” stated Dr. Su. He added that they will “further optimize the structure to improve the efficacy and hope that one day those compounds will enter clinical trials.”

CSU increases focus on research: national and local grants awarded and patents filed

In the past ten years, Dr. Su’s research concentration has included a focus on drug discovery to treat cancer, as well as a continuing NIH research grant to develop drugs used to treat trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, a disease that kills millions each year in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Su has been awarded a total of three NIH grants and his research has been strongly supported by CSU internal grants as well, reflecting the university’s support of scientific research initiatives. His research discoveries have generated new compound candidates showing great potential as new drug therapies in cancer research. In 2014, CSU patented Dr. Su’s discovery of HSP27 inhibitor.

2020 Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching

With a strong belief that a teacher can profoundly impact the trajectory of a student’s life, Dr. Su shared that mentoring his students is as equally important as his research work in the lab.

His impact at CSU has not gone unnoticed. In 2020, Dr. Su was celebrated with CSU’s Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching by the Faculty Awards Committee in the Office of the Provost. In his ten-year tenure at CSU, Dr. Su was honored seven times with the Faculty Merit Recognition Award for Research and the Mentor of the Year Award for the McNair Scholars Program in 2014.

He loves Cleveland and CSU, and while the recognition is appreciated, Dr. Su’s passion for teaching is what drives him.

“I love to teach, it’s my favorite thing at the university. I work to make the classes and labs interesting so that students want to continue along a path in the sciences. As an advisor to undergraduate students studying chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences, I find that it is important to connect with them as they plan their academic direction.

I want to help them to discover their field of interest and inspire them to continue. If they can discover their path, they will advance their studies and contribute greatly to all of society, regardless of their area of study.” Dr. Su said.