Ph.D., Technical University Berlin, Germany
College of Pharmacy
Redox drug discovery targeting human skin cancer.
Dr. Wondrak's research aims at redox drug discovery targeting skin cancer and solar photodamage: "My laboratory explores molecular mechanisms of skin photodamage and photocarcinogenesis with a focus on chemical processes including photooxidative and carbonyl stress. Identification of critical molecular targets that mediate UVA-induced skin alterations and contribute to the pathogenesis of nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancer facilitates the development of novel experimental therapeutics for skin photoprotection and anti-melanoma intervention. (I) Our recent research suggests that redox dysregulation originating from metabolic alterations and dependence on mitogenic and survival signaling through reactive oxygen species represents a specific vulnerability of melanoma cells that can be selectively targeted by apoptogenic redox chemotherapeutics. We are therefore aiming at drug discovery and target identification of small molecule prooxidant modulators including genotype-directed quinones and synthetically-lethal endoperoxides displaying anti-melanoma activity in vitro and in vivo. (II) For skin cancer photo-chemoprevention and solar photoprotection we are aiming at the design of pharmacological activators of the innate skin photo-adaptive response (SPA) that antagonizes cutaneous damage from environmental UV exposure. Non-cytotoxic small molecule SPA-inducers, acting through Nrf2-activation and heat shock response upregulation, represent a novel class of topical agents targeting skin photo-oxidative stress."