SGC Toronto hosts an interactive workshop on EZH2 inhibitors to promote sharing of latest advances in the field

Dr Cheryl Arrowsmith welcomes participants at SGC's workshop on EZH2 inhibitors

(Dr Cheryl Arrowsmith welcomes participants at SGC's workshop on EZH2 inhibitors)

On Monday February 9th, 2015, SGC Toronto hosted the one-day workshop EZH2 inhibitors: Target Validation through Chemical Biology focusing on discussion and sharing of data around the use of inhibitors of EZH2.

“EZH2 is a major regulator of epigenetic states and an important clinical target in oncology”, explained Dr Cheryl Arrowsmith, Chief Scientist of SGC Toronto.

Over the past few years, SGC and collaborators have created small inhibitory molecules, called chemical probes, and distributed them to the community as research tools that can help in determining the function and therapeutic potential of medically-relevant targets such as EZH2.

The workshop featured talks by industry and academic researchers and promoted in-depth discussion of studies using chemical probes and other inhibitors to EZH2 by allowing for extended Q&A periods and a round-table session at the end.

“The workshop was an experiment to test the value of free-flowing data and ideas. Much of the data shared in the workshop are yet to be published,” said Dr Arrowsmith. All recipients of SGC chemical probes were invited to the workshop.

One of the speakers was Dr Sarah Knutson who is a Senior Scientist with Epizyme, a biopharmaceutical company developing cancer therapies. She presented her insights from in vitro studies and clinical trials currently underway with Epizyme’s EZH2 inhibitor EPZ-6438.

On her reasons for participating in this workshop: “I attended the workshop to not only share my data, but to get outside viewpoints and critical eyes on the results and discuss directions of where the exciting field of EZH2 biology is going.”

The workshop was held at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto's discovery district and was attended by approximately 70 researchers from various backgrounds who braved the snowy city to hear invited speakers and participate in the poster sessions.

Dr Nestor Concha, Senior Scientific Investigator, R&D Platform Technology & Science with GSK was amongst the attendees who flew in to Toronto to join the meeting. Commenting on the value of the workshop, he said “The caliber of the participants, the well-chosen venue, and the format were ideal for promoting new collaborations and catching up on old ones. I found the information about the safety of the inhibitors used and the data indicating that EZH2 may be a suitable target for solid tumor cancers especially important. This information came partly from the presentations, and partly at the breaks and poster sessions.”

 “The discussion throughout the day was highly interactive and engaging” said Elizabeth Koch, a PhD candidate with the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto who presented her latest data on the role of hypoxia in epigenetic regulation of stem cells.  “Each session provided a wealth of information ranging from the more technical aspects of using the inhibitors to the broader biological implications of targeting EZH2 in the context of cancer.”

Despite the weather-related challenges that grounded two out-of-town speakers and prevented some registrants from attending the meeting, the workshop was well received by the EZH2 community. The success of the EZH2 inhibitors workshop means SGC will likely hold additional meetings in related areas.

To learn more about the EZH2 workshop see here:

(Dr. Abdellah Allali-Hassani presenting at the poster session)


epigeneticschemical probesEZH2workshopopen science

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