Welcome to the Koong Lab

The Koong Lab, established in 2001, has been focused on developing cancer therapies that exploit differences between the tumor microenvironment and normal tissues.  Specifically, we have been focused on understanding the role of unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway in regulating tumor growth.  We developed a high throughput robotic screen for compounds that can regulate UPR activity in tumor cells.  We identified a series of small molecule inhibitors of the Ire1-XBP1 branch of the UPR with potent anti-tumor activity.  We apply computational methods for drug discovery with our screening capability and have developed a highly effective platform for drug discovery. 

We have also completed a whole genome siRNA screen to identify novel genes that can modulate UPR activity.  Current studies are underway to determine the biologic significance and mechanisms by which these gene families can regulate the UPR.

Another major focus of the Koong Lab is to discover protein biomarkers that are relevant in gastrointestinal malignancies.  We utilize the proximity ligation assay (PLA), an antibody-based method of detection coupled with a PCR amplification step to profile proteins present in the plasma of cancer patients.  We hypothesize that this blood profile will allow clinicians to select patients that are most appropriate for various cancer therapies.