In January 2019, Hyo Jeong Kim commenced work on her PhD at Bond University, investigating on the synthesis and evaluation of sialyltransferase inhibitors supervised by Dr Stephan Levonis, Dr Stephanie Schweiker and Dr Donna Seller.
Prior to this, Hyo Jeong completed her Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences and Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) at Bond University in 2016 and 2017. Her previous research work focused on the areas of investigating salivary sialic acids as a biomarker in obesity.
Cholangiocarcinoma is a type of liver cancer that originates in the bile duct. It is relatively rare in Australia. However, the number has been increasing significantly for the past three decades. Cholangiocarcinoma patients have been reported to have high levels of sialic acids (SAs).
SAs are a diverse family of sugar units that are found abundantly across the surface of a human cell. Due to their position on the cell surface, it participates in various human body processes such as when cancer cells spread across the body. Sialyltransferase (ST) is a protein responsible for attaching SAs to the cell surface. Therefore, when ST activity is increased, the SAs level also increases. ST inhibitors are substances that prevents ST from attaching SA to the cell surface. High level of SAs on the cell surface is known to be associated with the development of cancer. The inhibitors of ST are thus of high medicinal interest as it could be considered potential drug targets for cancer therapies such as those used in the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma.
To date, no research has explored ST inhibitors on cholangiocarcinoma. The project, therefore, aims design, synthesise and evaluate the ST inhibitors. The findings of this project may one day help lead to a treatment option for cholangiocarcinoma patients in some cases.
Supervisors: Dr Stephan Levonis, Dr Stephanie Schweiker & Dr Donna Sellers