State of the Field in KRAS Research

This article in Chemical & Engineering News features the work of team member Kevan Shokat, PhD.

Have drug hunters finally cracked KRas?

After decades of failures, researchers see promise in fresh approaches to developing drugs that block cancer’s toughest target

Chemist Kevan Shokat remembers vividly the moment he had his first clue that scientists in his University of California, San Francisco, lab were on their way to cracking one of the most notorious—and elusive—cancer-causing proteins.

It was December 2011, and he was snowbound on the road to Lake Tahoe when he got an e-mail from one of his postdocs, Ulf Peters. The message contained little more than columns of numbers. But Shokat knew that, when fed into special software, those numbers would translate into a three-dimensional image of a small molecule bound to KRas, a member of a protein family mutated in 30% of cancers that for decades has stymied drug developers. Those cryptic numbers were the culmination of several years of hard, often discouraging, work.

Shokat really needed to get to a computer...

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