Working to facilitate rapid translation of scientific discoveries into therapeutics

Prof Douglas M Noonan

Douglas M Noonan

Prof Noonan received a BA in Biology from the College of Wooster (Ohio) in 1979 and a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Case Western Reserve University in 1985. He did a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, USA in the Laboratory of Developmental Biology and Anomalies of the National Institute for Dental Research from 1985 to 1988, under the direction of Dr John Hassell. Prof Noonan was the first to clone perlecan, a proteoglycan of the extracellular matrix, and investigated its function. His use of an anti-sense construct for perlecan to inhibit melanoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma tumor growth and metastasis was a prelude to extensive cancer gene therapy studies. In 1988 Prof Noonan moved to Italy and was given tenure at the National Cancer Institute – Genoa in 1993. There he became interested in AIDS associated Kaposi’s sarcoma, a highly angiogenic neoplasm. His collaborative studies on the HIV-Tat protein described several novel functions of this protein, including its heparan sulfate binding angiogenic factor and chemokine-like activities, publishing key articles in the field. Prof Noonan studied the potential therapeutic effect of numerous drugs on tumor growth and metastasis, particularly focusing on gene therapy approaches with anti-angiogenic molecules. These studies led him into investigation of the role of tumor inflammatory components in regulating tumor angiogenesis and as a key therapeutic target. These studies demonstrated that several endogenous angiogenesis inhibitors target innate immune cells. Most recently he developed and tested the hypothesis that natural killer (NK) cells in human tumors show a pro-angiogenic phenotype. He is currently investigating the modulation of the NK cell pro-angiogenic in the context of the tumor macro- and micro-environment.

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