Dr. Jo Ishizawa
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Leukemia
My research focus is on cancer-specific mitochondria biology and cell death mechanisms. Our project team is mainly working on leukemia (in particular acute myeloid leukemia, AML) and gastric cancer.
We have very recently discovered the mitochondrial protease ClpP as a novel therapeutic target in cancers and leukemia. We have also identified a novel ClpP agonist, which activates ClpP and results in mitochondrial dysfunction (“mitochondrial proteolysis”) and resultant cell death specifically in malignant cells. Along with these findings on mitochondrial proteostasis, we are currently focusing on a unique cellular stress response termed “mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt)”, as well as BCL2 and p53, as biological components which could provide further novel therapeutic rationale of mitochondria-targeted cancer therapy.
While most of our projects are pre-clinical (bench work or mouse studies), as one of the very unique opportunity provided at MD Anderson Cancer Center, we are also conducting biomarker studies in several ongoing early phase clinical trials for AML patients in order to validate the above findings and hypotheses.
Through these projects, student can have hands-on experiences of molecular biology including gene manipulations in cell lines, cell culture (mainly leukemia cell lines and primary cells from patients), mouse studies (mainly leukemia xenograft models and drug treatment), basic flow cytometry techniques, and so on.