The Sturge-Weber Foundation is honored to announce its 2020 Lisa’s Research Grant Award recipient, Naiem T. Issa, MD, PhD. Dr. Issa is a clinical dermatologist with graduate training in cancer drug discovery at Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, in the Dr. Phillip Frost Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery.
His expertise is in silico drug discovery where computational tools are used to predict molecules that could interact with and modulate disease targets. Specifically, Dr. Issa searches for drugs that are either already FDA approved, experimental or have been removed from the market due to safety concerns - a process termed drug repurposing.
Dr. Issa will receive $30,000 from the Sturge-Weber Foundation’s Lisa’s Research Grant Program for his research focus on discovering what could be the first small molecule drugs that inhibit (GNAQ) Gq. If successful, such drugs would mark a significant foundational step in drug development for Sturge-Weber syndrome. The discovery of GNAQ (Gq) mutations was a significant milestone in understanding this disease and uncovering a novel therapeutic target. When left unchecked, Gq leads to dysregulated cellular responses such as capillary malformations. Recent research into therapies have focused on targeting the different aspects of Gq signaling. However, no drugs have ever been discovered that directly inhibit the Gq protein itself and ultimately affecting all downstream pathways.