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Hassan Lemjabbar-Alaoui, Ph.D. is a biomedical scientist and Principal Investigator in the Thoracic Oncology Laboratory. Dr. Alaoui received his Ph.D. from the University of Paris XII. Since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Paris XII, he has been studying the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), the reactivation of embryonic signaling pathways, and the roles these play in lung carcinogenesis. Dr. Alaoui began these studies in 1997 as a postdoctoral fellow/Assistant Research Anatomist in Dr. Carol Basbaum's lab at UCSF, continued them as an Associate Research Anatomist in Steven Rosen's lab, and then as an Assistant Professor of Anatomy at UCSF.
Dr. Alaoui's research is focused the role of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in lung carcinogenesis as well as reactivation of embryonic signaling pathways such as Wnt signaling.The Alaoui Lab is a core component of the UCSF Thoracic Oncology Lab, Dr. Alaoui is currently investigating two extracellular regulators of Wnt signaling, Sulf-1 and Sulf-2, as new therapeutic targets and their role in promoting cell proliferation, survival, and angiogenesis, and in resistance to chemotherapy. Characterized a decade ago in the lab of Dr. Steven Rosen, these enzymes act on extracellular heparan sulfate. Sulfs remove specific internal sulfate residues from heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) on both the cell surface and within the extracellular matrix.
The NIH has awarded two UCF scientists, Hassan Lemjabbar-Alaoui, Ph.D and Joanna J. Phillips, M.D., Ph.D., a five-year $2.2m grant to study the clinical utility of extracellular heparan sulfate endosulfatases, or SULFs, as biomarkers for early detection of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and malignant astrocytoma. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and world-wide. Astrocytomas are primary brain neoplasms (tumors). Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and malignant primary brain tumor, was responsible for the death of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. The U01 mechanism that funded this grant, also known as a collaborative R01, is reserved for highly innovative cross-disciplinary projects that hold great promise for scientific advancements. Here Dr. Alaoui, an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Surgery, and a member of the UCSF Thoracic Oncology Program and Thoracic Oncology Lab, has teamed with Dr. Phillips, an Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery and Pathology and Co-Director of the Brain Tumor Research Center Tissue Bank, to investigate plasma levels of SULFs, which are overexpressed in each of these lethal cancers.
A team consisting of Hassan Lemjabbar-Alaoui, Ph.D., Assistant Adjunct Professor of Surgery and principal Investigator in the Thoracic Oncology Laboratory and Alaoui Lab, and Steven Rosen, PhD, Professor and Vice-chair of the Department of Anatomy, are developing a novel treatment for lung cancer in a unique collaboration between UCSF and Pfizer, the world's largest drug company. The Rosen-Alaoui team has identified an enzyme found at high levels in lung and other cancers and is developing antibodies to target the enzyme and disable the cancer, even in cells rendered cancerous by cigarette smoke.The partnership enables the teams to combine their unique areas of expertise to push the pace of development, Rosen said. "That's the whole idea: merge our strengths and speed the process along, compared to what either party could do alone."