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The Wayne D. Kuni and Joan E. Kuni Laboratory for Cancer Research

In a unique collaborative research effort between a research scientist and a surgical oncologist, Detlev Boison, Ph.D. (Director of Basic and Translational Research) and Serene Perkins, M.D. (Director of Surgical and Clinical Research) have created a unique research program to develop a novel approach for cancer therapy.

Legacy Research Institute receives $5 million gift to advance groundbreaking approach to cancer treatment

Instead of conventional top-down approaches, which eradicate both healthy and cancerous cells, the new research program focuses on the development of a targeted, personalized therapy that works at the metabolic level to kill cancer cells by manipulating adenosine kinase, an enzyme that controls cell proliferation, and which normally is involved in cell differentiation and maturation. Boison and Perkins found that cancer cells manipulate the aging and differentiation 'clock' of cells and thereby become more proliferative and more adaptable.

The new cancer research team develops drug-based and molecular therapies to reset the clock of cancer cells and thereby combat cancer through its own specific biology. Boison and Perkins aim to develop a new therapy that is accessible and affordable for all.

Samples from the Legacy Tumor Bank have played a key role in establishing the basics for the new therapeutic approach, and will continue to be a valuable resource as the team continues its in depth investigations on the role of adenosine kinase and cancer.


Intracellular adenosine regulates epigenetic programming in endothelial cells to promote angiogenesis.
Xu Y, Wang Y, Yan S, Zhou Y, Yang Q, Pan Y, Zeng X, An X, Liu Z, Wang L, Xu J, Cao Y, Fulton DJ, Weintraub NL, Bagi Z, Hoda MN, Wang X, Li Q, Hong M, Jiang X, Boison D, Weber C, Wu C, Huo Y.
EMBO Mol Med. 2017 Sep;9(9):1263-1278.

Dynamic Regulation of the Adenosine Kinase Gene during Early Postnatal Brain Development and Maturation.
Kiese K, Jablonski J, Boison D, Kobow K.
Front Mol Neurosci. 2016 Oct 20;9:99.

South (S)- and North (N)-Methanocarba-7-Deazaadenosine Analogues as Inhibitors of Human Adenosine Kinase.
Toti KS, Osborne D, Ciancetta A, Boison D, Jacobson KA.
J Med Chem. 2016 Jul 28;59(14):6860-77.

Adenosine kinase: exploitation for therapeutic gain.
Boison D.
Pharmacol Rev. 2013 Apr 16;65(3):906-43.

Research Team

LRI Cancer Research Team

Standing, from left to right:
Joe Frascella, Vice President of Research, Legacy Research Institute
Amir Wahba, Research Associate, Cancer Research 
Greg Goodwin, Wayne D. and Joan E. Kuni Foundation
Detlev Boison, Co-Director of The Wayne D. and Joan E. Kuni Laboratory for Cancer Research
Serene Perkins, Co-Director of The Wayne D. and Joan E. Kuni Laboratory for Cancer Research
Haiying Shen, Senior Research Associate, Cancer Research
Randy Owen, Research Assistant, Cancer Research
Jesica Reemmer, Research Assistant Lead, Cancer Research
Samuel Nelson, Research Student, Legacy Tumor Bank
John Ost, Supervisor, Legacy Tumor Bank
Angela Hult, Wayne D. and Joan E. Kuni Foundation
Maureen Bradley, Senior Vice President, Office of Philanthropy, Legacy Health
Sitting, from left to right:
Nandita Kumar, Research Assistant, Cancer Research
Rkia El-kharrag, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Cancer Research
Bahar Shamloo, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Cancer Research