Profile photo of Nadya I. Tarasova, Ph.D.
Nadya I. Tarasova, Ph.D.
Associate Scientist
Head, Synthetic Biologics Facility

Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute

Building 538, Room 102
Frederick, MD 21702-1201
301-846-5225

Dr. Tarasova heads the Synthetic Biologics Facility (SBF) which generates chemical biology tools and drug candidates for molecular targets identified by CCR research groups and collaborators from academic labs. It develops new methods and technologies in molecular discovery. The facility focuses on application of rational approaches for the design of inhibitors predominantly for “undruggable” molecular targets. The SBF develops new chemical approaches in structural stabilization and for improving pharmacological properties of synthetic biologics.

Areas of Expertise
1) chemical biology, 2) drug discovery, 3) protein-protein interactions, 4) peptidomimetics

The major research goal is the development of new methods in anti-cancer drug discovery. There is a paradoxical decline in the number of new medicines on the market in spite of increasing investment into research and development by pharmaceutical industry (http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/76xx/doc7615/10-02-DrugR-D.pdf). One of the reasons for this phenomenon is the focus of pharmaceutical companies on small molecules for the development of therapeutic agents. Although they can be potent inhibitors of target proteins, small molecules are known for their low selectivity. They are rarely effective in inhibition of protein-protein interactions because they are not able to interfere effectively with multipoint binding involving large protein surfaces. Larger and more complex molecules, such as peptides and peptidomimetics, provide more specific target recognition and are better suited for inhibition of protein-protein interactions. However, peptides are susceptible to degradation and require additional design of cellular delivery mechanisms. We make peptides more druggable by developing metabolically stable cell-permeable peptidomimetics with rigid and predictable structures amendable to rational drug design. External funding of the projects includes: CDMRP Prostate Cancer Research Award PC08116 'Self-assembling peptide nanoparticles targeting prostate tumors' CRADA with Calidris Therapeutics 'Development of Peptidomimetic Cancer Therapeutics Platform Based upon NCI Lipopeptide Inhibitors of Molecular Targets and Self- Assembling Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System'.

Selected Publications
  1. Tarasov SG, Gaponenko V, Howard OM, Chen Y, Oppenheim JJ, Dyba MA, Subramaniam S, Lee Y, Michejda C, Tarasova NI
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108: 9798-803, 2011. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Zhao Y, Zeng C, Tarasova NI, Chasovskikh S, Dritschilo A, Timofeeva OA.
    Transcription. 4: 227-31, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  3. Protein purification-free method of binding affinity determination by microscale thermophoresis.
    Khavrutskii L, Yeh J, Timofeeva O, Tarasov S, Pritt S, Stefanisko K, Tarasova N
    J. Vis. Exp. 78: e50541, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  4. Timofeeva OA, Tarasova NI, Zhang X, Chasovskikh S, Cheema AK, Wang H, Brown ML, Dritschilo A.
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110: 1267-72, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  5. Timofeeva OA, Tarasova NI.
    JAKSTAT. 1: 274-84, 2012. [ Journal Article ]

Dr. Tarasova was trained as a bioorganic chemist. She obtained her Ph.D. in chemistry at Lomonosov University, Moscow, Russia in 1981. After postdoctoral training in the lab of Prof. Bent Foltmann at Copenhagen University, Denmark, she established a group working on the chemistry of proteolytic enzymes in the Chemistry Department of Lomonosov University. Dr. Tarasova joined the ABL-Basic Research Program of NCI as visiting scientist in 1991 and became a staff scientist in NCI Center for Cancer Research in 1999. She was appointed as Head of the Synthetic Biologics Facility in 2008.

Name Position
Benjamin Freed Summer Student
Rebecca Freed Special Volunteer
Lyuba Khavrutskii Research Assistant (Contr)
Karen Stefanisko M.S. Research Biologist

Summary

Dr. Tarasova heads the Synthetic Biologics Facility (SBF) which generates chemical biology tools and drug candidates for molecular targets identified by CCR research groups and collaborators from academic labs. It develops new methods and technologies in molecular discovery. The facility focuses on application of rational approaches for the design of inhibitors predominantly for “undruggable” molecular targets. The SBF develops new chemical approaches in structural stabilization and for improving pharmacological properties of synthetic biologics.

Areas of Expertise
1) chemical biology, 2) drug discovery, 3) protein-protein interactions, 4) peptidomimetics

Research

The major research goal is the development of new methods in anti-cancer drug discovery. There is a paradoxical decline in the number of new medicines on the market in spite of increasing investment into research and development by pharmaceutical industry (http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/76xx/doc7615/10-02-DrugR-D.pdf). One of the reasons for this phenomenon is the focus of pharmaceutical companies on small molecules for the development of therapeutic agents. Although they can be potent inhibitors of target proteins, small molecules are known for their low selectivity. They are rarely effective in inhibition of protein-protein interactions because they are not able to interfere effectively with multipoint binding involving large protein surfaces. Larger and more complex molecules, such as peptides and peptidomimetics, provide more specific target recognition and are better suited for inhibition of protein-protein interactions. However, peptides are susceptible to degradation and require additional design of cellular delivery mechanisms. We make peptides more druggable by developing metabolically stable cell-permeable peptidomimetics with rigid and predictable structures amendable to rational drug design. External funding of the projects includes: CDMRP Prostate Cancer Research Award PC08116 'Self-assembling peptide nanoparticles targeting prostate tumors' CRADA with Calidris Therapeutics 'Development of Peptidomimetic Cancer Therapeutics Platform Based upon NCI Lipopeptide Inhibitors of Molecular Targets and Self- Assembling Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System'.

Publications

Selected Publications
  1. Tarasov SG, Gaponenko V, Howard OM, Chen Y, Oppenheim JJ, Dyba MA, Subramaniam S, Lee Y, Michejda C, Tarasova NI
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108: 9798-803, 2011. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Zhao Y, Zeng C, Tarasova NI, Chasovskikh S, Dritschilo A, Timofeeva OA.
    Transcription. 4: 227-31, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  3. Protein purification-free method of binding affinity determination by microscale thermophoresis.
    Khavrutskii L, Yeh J, Timofeeva O, Tarasov S, Pritt S, Stefanisko K, Tarasova N
    J. Vis. Exp. 78: e50541, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  4. Timofeeva OA, Tarasova NI, Zhang X, Chasovskikh S, Cheema AK, Wang H, Brown ML, Dritschilo A.
    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110: 1267-72, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  5. Timofeeva OA, Tarasova NI.
    JAKSTAT. 1: 274-84, 2012. [ Journal Article ]

Biography

Dr. Tarasova was trained as a bioorganic chemist. She obtained her Ph.D. in chemistry at Lomonosov University, Moscow, Russia in 1981. After postdoctoral training in the lab of Prof. Bent Foltmann at Copenhagen University, Denmark, she established a group working on the chemistry of proteolytic enzymes in the Chemistry Department of Lomonosov University. Dr. Tarasova joined the ABL-Basic Research Program of NCI as visiting scientist in 1991 and became a staff scientist in NCI Center for Cancer Research in 1999. She was appointed as Head of the Synthetic Biologics Facility in 2008.

Team

Name Position
Benjamin Freed Summer Student
Rebecca Freed Special Volunteer
Lyuba Khavrutskii Research Assistant (Contr)
Karen Stefanisko M.S. Research Biologist