CORDIS - EU research results

Development of dual-targeting epigenetic modulators for polypharmacology-based cancer therapy

Project description

Multitargeting strategy to overcome cancer therapy resistance

Cancer onset and development is affected by many parameters, including genetics, the environment, and epigenetic factors. As such, compounds that simultaneously target multiple epigenetic enzymes may be a promising therapeutic strategy to overcome cancer therapy resistance. Using this premise, the EU-funded EpiPolyPharma project is developing novel molecules to target protein methylation and acetylation (common in epigenetic pathways). In particular, the researchers are investigating enzymes that cooperate in different pathways simultaneously to counteract tumour growth. As the most promising inhibitors will be assessed in cell assays and for their effects on the regulation of cancer gene transcription, the project foresees additional personalised weapons to combat cancer and related drug resistance.


Cancer is a multifactorial disorder involving different genetic and epigenetic alterations. Since epigenetic modifications are brought about by multiple enzymes working synergistically, multitargeting compounds may be particularly effective to acutely interfere with aberrant processes. The simultaneous inhibition of two or more enzymes by a single molecule provides improved therapeutic efficacy compared to single-target inhibitors, along with reduced insurgence of drug resistance.
Through this project, I aim at developing novel therapeutics targeting protein (de)methylation and (de)acetylation for application in cancer therapy. I will synthesise and evaluate hybrid molecules inhibiting two enzymes at the same time. I will develop two classes of compounds targeting the Lysine-specific histone demethylase 1A (LSD1) and either Protein arginine N-methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) or Histone deacetylases 1-2 (HDAC1-2). These enzymes cooperate in different pathways that lead to cancer insurgence and progression, hence dual targeting represents a successful strategy to counteract tumour growth.
To achieve the outlined aims, I will employ a multidisciplinary approach requiring the fusion of knowledge and tools from medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, molecular and cell biology. Through the employment of cutting-edge synthetic approaches, I will prepare LSD1/PRMT5 and LSD1/HDAC1-2 inhibitors which will be assessed through multiple biochemical and biophysical assays. I will also employ native mass spectrometry to investigate their mode of action in the context of the multi-protein complexes formed by the protein targets. The most promising inhibitors will be evaluated in cellular assays to assess their anticancer properties and their effects on transcriptional regulation.
This project will open innovative avenues for personalised therapies and provide additional weapons to overcome drug resistance, along with adding new knowledge on the epigenetic mechanisms of cancer.

Funding Scheme



Net EU contribution
€ 172 750,08
Piazzale Aldo Moro 5
00185 Roma

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Centro (IT) Lazio Roma
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Partners (1)