He earned his B.S. at the University of Maryland and both his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Rochester, before completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland.Dr. Disney is a full professor in the bi-coastal Department of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute with laboratories on the Florida campus of TSRI.His group has developed broad approaches to the directed use of RNA genome sequence to inform the development of lead small-molecule medicines for multiple conditions with unprecedented potency and selectivity.His research has now been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.His research focuses on RNA-based drug discovery.His work has also garnered many awards, including the NIH Director's Pioneer Award, the Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award, the James Watson Investigator Award and others.
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Scripps Research Institute
While the development has only been tested in rat models, researchers have been able to design a drug that decreases the growth of tumor cells in triple negative breast cancer, one of the most difficult forms of the disease to treat. "The study represents a clear breakthrough in precision medicine, as this molecule only kills cancer cells that express the cancer-causing gene – not healthy cells," said Prof. Matthew Disney, a researcher at The Scripps Research Institute where the drug was designed. "These studies may transform the way the lead drugs are identified – by using the genetic makeup of a disease." This method for fighting disease involves inserting certain compounds or molecules into the disease's structure to disrupt harmful activity. For example, the drug created to fight triple negative breast cancer, called Targaprimir-96, causes breast cancer cells to kill themselves by targeting a specific RNA. The researchers believe that this new method of developing precise drug candidates can be a huge improvement over existing therapies, which can kill cells indiscriminately or cause harmful side effects.
Imagine trying to throw a bullseye when the dartboard lies buried within a crumpled box. That's the challenge faced by scientists working to make new medicines for some 'undruggable' diseases, including a type of metastatic breast cancer. The new RNA drug-discovery tool, described in Monday's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, addresses these and other challenges to enable both the rapid discovery and optimization of RNA-targeting compounds, says Chemist Matthew Disney, Ph.D., of Scripps Research, Florida.
Matthew Disney, PhD, of Scripps Research in Jupiter, Florida, has spent over a decade developing tools to make RNA a druggable target for curing diseases. His lab's latest target is COVID-19, which is caused by a RNA virus. "This is a proof-of-concept study," Disney says. Using a database of RNA-binding chemical entities developed by Disney, they found 26 candidate compounds.