Jason Z Vlahakis

Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (40)150.89 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) encoded by the HMOX1 gene is a 32 kDa stress protein that catabolizes heme to biliverdin, free iron and carbon monoxide. Glial HO-1 is over-expressed in the CNS of subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and multiple sclerosis (MS). The HMOX1 gene is exquisitely sensitive to oxidative stress and is induced in brain and other tissues in various models of disease and trauma. Induction of the glial HMOX1 gene may lead to pathological brain iron deposition, intracellular oxidative damage and bioenergetic failure in AD and other human CNS disorders such as PD and MS. Therefore, targeted suppression of glial HO-1 hyperactivity may prove to be a rational and effective therapeutic intervention in AD and related neurodegenerative disorders. In the present study, we report the effects of QC-47, QC-56 and OB-28, novel azole-based competitive and reversible inhibitors of HO-1, on oxidative damage to whole cell and mitochondrial compartments in rat astrocytes transfected with the HMOX1 gene. We also report the effect of OB-28 on the behavior and neuropathology of APPswe/PS1∆E9 mice. OB-28 was found to reduce oxidative damage to whole cell and mitochondrial compartments in rat astrocytes transfected with the HMOX1 gene. Moreover, OB-28 was found to significantly counter behavioural deficits and neuropathological alterations in APPswe/PS1∆E9 mice. Attenuation of AD-associated behavioural deficits and neuropathological changes suggests that HO-1 may be a promising target for neuro-protective intervention in AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 08/2014; · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: E. coli display O antigens on the outer membrane that play an important role in bacterial interactions with the environment. The O antigens of enterohemorrhagic E. coli O104 and O5 contain a Galβ1-3GalNAc- disaccharide at the reducing end of the repeating unit. Several other O antigens contain this disaccharide which is identical to the mammalian O-glycan core 1 or the cancer-associated Thomsen-Friedenreich (TF) antigen. We identified the wbwC genes responsible for the synthesis of the disaccharide in E. coli serotypes O104 and O5. To functionally characterize WbwC, an acceptor substrate analog, GalNAcα-diphosphate-phenylundecyl, was synthesized. WbwC reaction products were isolated by high pressure liquid chromatography and analyzed by mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance, galactosidase and O-glycanase digestion and anti-TF antibody. The results clearly showed that the Galβ1-3GalNAcα- linkage was synthesized, confirming WbwCECO104 and WbwCECO5 as UDP-Gal: GalNAcα-diphosphate-lipid β1,3-Gal-transferases. Sequence analysis revealed a conserved DxDD motif, and mutagenesis showed the importance of these Asp residues in catalysis. The purified enzymes require divalent cations (Mn(2+)) for activity and are specific for UDP-Gal and GalNAc-diphosphate-lipid substrates. WbwC was inhibited by bis-imidazolium salts having aliphatic chains of 18 to 22 carbons. This work will help to elucidate mechanisms of polysaccharide synthesis in pathogenic bacteria and provide technology for vaccine synthesis.
    Journal of bacteriology. 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Several analogs based on the lead structure of 1-(4-chlorobenzyl)-2-(pyrrolidin-1-ylmethyl)-1H-benzimidazole (clemizole) were synthesized and evaluated as novel inhibitors of heme oxygenase (HO). Many of the compounds were found to be potent and highly selective for the HO-2 isozyme (constitutive), and had substantially less inhibitory activity on the HO-1 isozyme (inducible). The compounds represent the first report of highly potent and selective inhibitors of HO-2 activity, and complement our suite of selective HO-1 inhibitors. The study has revealed many candidates based on the inhibition of heme oxygenases for potentially useful pharmacological and therapeutic applications.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 08/2013; · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Modifications of proteins by O-glycosylation determine many of the properties and functions of proteins. We wish to understand the mechanisms of O-glycosylation and develop inhibitors that could affect glycoprotein functions and alter cellular behavior. METHODS: We expressed recombinant soluble human Gal- and GlcNAc-transferases that synthesize the O-glycan cores 1 to 4 and are critical for the overall structures of O-glycans. We determined the properties and substrate specificities of these enzymes using synthetic acceptor substrate analogs. Compounds that were inactive as substrates were tested as inhibitors. RESULTS: Enzymes significantly differed in their recognition of the sugar moieties and aglycone groups of substrates. Core 1 synthase was active with glycopeptide substrates but GlcNAc-transferases preferred substrates with hydrophobic aglycone groups. Chemical modifications of the acceptors shed light on enzyme - substrate interactions. Core 1 synthase was weakly inhibited by its substrate analog benzyl 2-butanamido-2-deoxy-α-D-galactoside while two of the three GlcNAc-transferases were selectively and potently inhibited by bis-imidazolium salts which are not substrate analogs. CONCLUSIONS: This work delineates the distinct specificities and properties of the enzymes that synthesize the common O-glycan core structures 1 to 4. New inhibitors were found that could selectively inhibit the synthesis of core 1, 2 and 3 but not core 4. General significance These studies help our understanding of the mechanisms of action of enzymes critical for O-glycosylation. The results may be useful for the re-engineering of O-glycosylation to determine the roles of O-glycans and the enzymes critical for O-glycosylation, and for biotechnology with potential therapeutic applications.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 04/2013; · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Galactosyltransferases (GalTs) extend the glycan chains of mammalian glycoproteins by adding Gal to terminal GlcNAc residues, and thus build the scaffolds for biologically important glycan structures. We have shown that positively charged bivalent imidazolium salts in which the two imidazolium groups are linked by an aliphatic chain of 20 or 22 carbons form potent inhibitors of purified human β3-GalT5, using GlcNAcβ-benzyl as acceptor substrate. The inhibitors are not substrate analogs and also inhibited a selected number of other glycosyltransferases. These bis-imidazolium compounds represent a new class of glycosyltransferase inhibitors with potential as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory drugs.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 01/2013; · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The interaction between DNA and members of series of bivalent imidazole compounds, monovalent and bivalent imidazolium compounds, and monovalent and bivalent tetrazolium compounds, which had been synthesized and evaluated for their anti-Plasmodium activity, has been examined using the displacement of SYBR Green I as a measure of competitive binding. The degree of interaction with DNA appears to be dependent on both hydrophobic and charge-pairing interactions.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters 12/2012; · 2.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The development of heme oxygenase (HO) inhibitors, especially those that are isozyme-selective, promises powerful pharmacological tools to elucidate the regulatory characteristics of the HO system. It is already known that HO has cytoprotective properties and may play a role in several disease states, making it an enticing therapeutic target. Traditionally, the metalloporphyrins have been used as competitive HO inhibitors owing to their structural similarity with the substrate, heme. However, given heme's important role in several other proteins (e.g. cytochromes P450, nitric oxide synthase), non-selectivity is an unfortunate side-effect. Reports that azalanstat and other non-porphyrin molecules inhibited HO led to a multi-faceted effort to develop novel compounds as potent, selective inhibitors of HO. This resulted in the creation of non-competitive inhibitors with selectivity for HO, including a subset with isozyme selectivity for HO-1. Using X-ray crystallography, the structures of several complexes of HO-1 with novel inhibitors have been elucidated, which provided insightful information regarding the salient features required for inhibitor binding. This included the structural basis for non-competitive inhibition, flexibility and adaptability of the inhibitor binding pocket, and multiple, potential interaction subsites, all of which can be exploited in future drug-design strategies.
    Journal of The Royal Society Interface 10/2012; · 4.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The enterohemorrhagic O157 strain of Escherichia coli, which is one of the most well-known bacterial pathogens, has an O-antigen repeating unit structure with the sequence [-2-d-Rha4NAcα1-3-l-Fucα1-4-d-Glcβ1-3-d-GalNAcα1-]. The O-antigen gene cluster of E. coli O157 contains the genes responsible for the assembly of this repeating unit and includes wbdN. In spite of cloning many O-antigen genes, biochemical characterization has been done on very few enzymes involved in O-antigen synthesis. In this work, we expressed the wbdN gene in E. coli BL21, and the His-tagged protein was purified. WbdN activity was characterized using the donor substrate UDP-[(14)C]Glc and the synthetic acceptor substrate GalNAcα-O-PO(3)-PO(3)-(CH(2))(11)-O-Ph. The enzyme product was isolated by high pressure liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry showed that one Glc residue was transferred to the acceptor by WbdN. Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of the product structure indicated that Glc was β1-3 linked to GalNAc. WbdN contains a conserved DxD motif and requires divalent metal ions for full activity. WbdN activity has an optimal pH between 7 and 8 and is highly specific for UDP-Glc as the donor substrate. GalNAcα derivatives lacking the diphosphate group were inactive as substrates, and the enzyme did not transfer Glc to GlcNAcα-O-PO(3)-PO(3)-(CH(2))(11)-O-Ph. Our results illustrate that WbdN is a specific UDP-Glc:GalNAcα-diphosphate-lipid β1,3-Glc-transferase. The enzyme is a target for the development of inhibitors to block O157-antigen synthesis.
    Glycobiology 05/2012; 22(8):1092-102. · 3.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several α-(1H-imidazol-1-yl)-ω-phenylalkanes were synthesized and evaluated as novel inhibitors of heme oxygenase (HO). These compounds were found to be potent and selective for the stress-induced isozyme HO-1, showing mostly weak activity toward the constitutive isozyme HO-2. The introduction of an oxygen atom in the alkyl linker produced analogues with decreased potency toward HO-1, whereas the presence of a sulfur atom in the linker gave rise to analogues with greater potency toward HO-1 than the carbon-containing analogues. The most potent compounds studied contained a five-atom linker between the imidazolyl and phenyl moieties, whereas the most HO-1-selective compounds contained a four-atom linker between these groups. The compounds with a five-atom linker containing a heteroatom (O or S) were found to be the most potent inhibitors of HO-2; 1-(N-benzylamino)-3-(1H-imidazol-1-yl)propane dihydrochloride, with a nitrogen atom in the linker, was found to be inactive.
    ChemMedChem 03/2012; 7(5):897-902. · 2.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The development of heme oxygenase (HO) inhibitors is critical in dissecting and understanding the HO system and for potential therapeutic applications. We have established a program to design and optimize HO inhibitors using structure-activity relationships in conjunction with X-ray crystallographic analyses. One of our previous complex crystal structures revealed a putative secondary hydrophobic binding pocket which could be exploited for a new design strategy by introducing a functional group that would fit into this potential site. To test this hypothesis and gain further insights into the structural basis of inhibitor binding, we have synthesized and characterized 1-(1H-imidazol-1-yl)-4,4-diphenyl-2-butanone (QC-308). Using a carbon monoxide (CO) formation assay on rat spleen microsomes, the compound was found to be ∼15 times more potent (IC(50) = 0.27±0.07 µM) than its monophenyl analogue, which is already a potent compound in its own right (QC-65; IC(50) = 4.0±1.8 µM). The crystal structure of hHO-1 with QC-308 revealed that the second phenyl group in the western region of the compound is indeed accommodated by a definitive secondary proximal hydrophobic pocket. Thus, the two phenyl moieties are each stabilized by distinct hydrophobic pockets. This "double-clamp" binding offers additional inhibitor stabilization and provides a new route for improvement of human heme oxygenase inhibitors.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(1):e29514. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cell surface mucins configure the cell surface by presenting extended protein backbones that are heavily O-glycosylated. The glycopeptide structures establish physicochemical properties at the cell surface that enable and block the formation of biologically important molecular complexes. Some mucins, such as MUC1, associate with receptor tyrosine kinases and other cell surface receptors, and engage in signal transduction in order to communicate information regarding conditions at the cell surface to the nucleus. In that context, the MUC1 cytoplasmic tail (MUC1CT) receives phosphorylation signals from receptor tyrosine kinases and serine/threonine kinases, which enables its association with different signaling complexes that conduct these signals to the nucleus and perhaps other subcellular organelles. We have detected the MUC1CT at promoters of over 500 genes, in association with several different transcription factors, and have shown that promoter occupancy can vary under different growth factor conditions. However, the full biochemical nature of the nuclear forms of MUC1 and its function at these promoter regions remain undefined. I will present evidence that nuclear forms of the MUC1CT include extracellular and cytoplasmic tail domains. In addition, I will discuss evidence for a hypothesis that the MUC1CT possesses a novel catalytic function that enables remodeling of the transcription factor occupancy of promoters, and thereby engages in regulation of gene expression.
    Glycobiology 11/2011; 21(11):1454-531. · 3.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A series of compounds containing bivalent imidazolium rings and one triazolium analog were synthesized and evaluated for their ability to inhibit the replication of Plasmodium falciparum cultures. The activity and selectivity of the compounds for P. falciparum cultures were found to depend on the presence of electron-deficient rings that were spaced an appropriate distance apart. The activity of the compounds was not critically dependent on the nature of the linker between the electron-deficient rings, an observation that suggests that the rings were responsible for the primary interaction with the molecular target of the compounds in the parasite. The bivalent imidazolium and triazolium compounds disrupted the process whereby merozoites gain entry into erythrocytes, however, they did not appear to prevent merozoites from forming. The compounds were also found to be active in a murine Plasmodium berghei infection, a result consistent with the compounds specifically interacting with a parasite component that is required for replication and is conserved between two Plasmodium species.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 06/2011; 19(21):6525-42. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sensitive assays for measuring heme oxygenase activity have been based on the gas-chromatographic detection of carbon monoxide using elaborate, expensive equipment. The present study describes a rapid and convenient method for screening imidazole-containing candidates for inhibitory activity against heme oxygenase using a plate reader, based on the spectroscopic evaluation of heme degradation. A PowerWave XS plate reader was used to monitor the absorbance (as a function of time) of heme bound to purified truncated human heme oxygenase-1 (hHO-1) in the individual wells of a standard 96-well plate (with or without the addition of a test compound). The degradation of heme by heme oxygenase-1 was initiated using l-ascorbic acid, and the collected relevant absorbance data were analyzed by three different methods to calculate the percent control activity occurring in wells containing test compounds relative to that occurring in control wells with no test compound present. In the cases of wells containing inhibitory compounds, significant shifts in λ(max) from 404 to near 412 nm were observed as well as a decrease in the rate of heme degradation relative to that of the control. Each of the three methods of data processing (overall percent drop in absorbance over 1.5h, initial rate of reaction determined over the first 5 min, and estimated pseudo first-order reaction rate constant determined over 1.5h) gave similar and reproducible results for percent control activity. The fastest and easiest method of data analysis was determined to be that using initial rates, involving data acquisition for only 5 min once reactions have been initiated using l-ascorbic acid. The results of the study demonstrate that this simple assay based on the spectroscopic detection of heme represents a rapid, convenient method to determine the relative inhibitory activity of candidate compounds, and is useful in quickly screening a series or library of compounds for heme oxygenase inhibition.
    Journal of pharmacological and toxicological methods 01/2011; 63(1):79-88. · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies by our research group have been concerned with the design of selective inhibitors of heme oxygenases (HO-1 and HO-2). The majority of these were based on a four-carbon linkage of an azole, usually an imidazole, and an aromatic moiety. In the present study, we designed and synthesized a series of inhibition candidates containing a shorter linkage between these groups, specifically, a series of 1-aryl-2-(1H-imidazol-1-yl/1H-1,2,4-triazol-1-yl)ethanones and their derivatives. As regards HO-1 inhibition, the aromatic moieties yielding best results were found to be halogen-substituted residues such as 3-bromophenyl, 4-bromophenyl, and 3,4-dichlorophenyl, or hydrocarbon residues such as 2-naphthyl, 4-biphenyl, 4-benzylphenyl, and 4-(2-phenethyl)phenyl. Among the imidazole-ketones, five (36-39, and 44) were found to be very potent (IC(50)<5 muM) toward both isozymes. Relative to the imidazole-ketones, the series of corresponding triazole-ketones showed four compounds (54, 55, 61, and 62) having a selectivity index >50 in favor of HO-1. In the case of the azole-dioxolanes, two of them (80 and 85), each possessing a 2-naphthyl moiety, were found to be particularly potent and selective HO-1 inhibitors. Three non-carbonyl analogues (87, 89, and 91) of 1-(4-chlorophenyl)-2-(1H-imidazol-1-yl)ethanone were found to be good inhibitors of HO-1. For the first time in our studies, two azole-based inhibitors (37 and 39) were found to exhibit a modest selectivity index in favor of HO-2. The present study has revealed additional candidates based on inhibition of heme oxygenases for potentially useful pharmacological and therapeutic applications.
    ChemMedChem 09/2010; 5(9):1541-55. · 2.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Heme oxygenases (HOs) catalyze the degradation of heme to biliverdin, carbon monoxide (CO), and free iron. The two major isoforms, HO-1 (inducible) and HO-2 (constitutive), are involved in a variety of physiological functions, including inflammation, apoptosis, neuromodulation, and vascular regulation. Major tools used in exploring these actions have been metalloporphyrin analogs of heme that inhibit the HOs. However, these tools are limited by their lack of selectivity; they affect other heme-dependent enzymes, such as cytochromes P450 (P450s), soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC), and nitric-oxide synthase (NOS). Our laboratory has successfully synthesized a number of nonporphyrin azole-based HO inhibitors (QC-xx) that had little or no effect on sGC and NOS activity. However, their effects on various P450 isoforms have yet to be fully elucidated. To determine the effects of the QC-xx inhibitors on P450 enzyme activity, microsomal preparations of two rat P450 isoforms (2E1 and 3A1/3A2) and two human P450 supersome isoforms (3A4 and 2D6) were incubated with varying concentrations of HO inhibitor, and the activity was determined by spectrophotometric or fluorometric analysis. Results indicated that some QC compounds demonstrated little to no inhibition of the P450s, whereas others did inhibit these P450 isoforms. Four structural regions of QC-xx were analyzed, leading to the identification of structures that confer a decreased effect on both rat and human P450 isoforms studied while maintaining an inhibitory effect on the HOs.
    Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 09/2010; 334(3):981-7. · 3.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have previously reported that tetrazolium salts were both potent and specific inhibitors of Plasmodium replication, and that they appear to interact with a parasite component that is both essential and conserved. The use of tetrazolium salts in vivo is limited by the potential reduction of the tetrazolium ring to form an inactive, neutral acyclic formazan. To address this issue imidazolium and triazolium salts were synthesized and evaluated as Plasmodium inhibitors. Many of the imidazolium and triazolium salts were highly potent with active concentrations in the nanomolar range in Plasmodium falciparum cultures, and specific to Plasmodium with highly favorable therapeutic ratios. The results corroborate our hypothesis that an electron-deficient core is required so that the compound may thereby interact with a negatively charged moiety on the parasite merozoite; the side groups in the compound then form favorable interactions with adjacent parasite components and thereby determine both the potency and selectivity of the compound.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 08/2010; 18(16):6184-96. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recombinant truncated forms of heme oxygenase-1 and -2 (HO-1 and HO-2) were compared with their crude microsomal counterparts from brain and spleen tissue of adult male rats with respect to their inhibition by azole-based, nonporphyrin HO inhibitors. The drugs tested were an imidazole-alcohol, an imidazole-dioxolane, and a triazole-ketone. Both the recombinant and crude forms of HO-2 were similarly inhibited by the 3 drugs. The crude microsomal spleen form of HO-1 was more susceptible to inhibition than was the truncated recombinant form. This difference is attributed to the extra amino acids in the full-length enzyme. These observations may be relevant in the design of drugs as inhibitors of HO and other membrane proteins.
    Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 04/2010; 88(4):480-6. · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recombinant truncated forms of heme oxygenase-1 and -2 (HO-1 and HO-2) were compared with their crude microsomal counterparts from brain and spleen tissue of adult male rats with respect to their inhibition by azole-based, nonporphyrin HO inhibitors. The drugs tested were an imidazole-alcohol, an imidazole-dioxolane, and a triazole-ketone. Both the recombinant and crude forms of HO-2 were similarly inhibited by the 3 drugs. The crude microsomal spleen form of HO-1 was more susceptible to inhibition than was the truncated recombinant form. This difference is attributed to the extra amino acids in the full-length enzyme. These observations may be relevant in the design of drugs as inhibitors of HO and other membrane proteins.On a comparé l'inhibition de formes recombinantes tronquées de hème oxygénase-1 et -2 (HO-1 et HO-2) avec celle de leurs contreparties microsomales brutes, en utilisant des inhibiteurs de HO non porphyriques, à base d'azole. On a testé trois médicaments: un imidazole-alcool, un imidazole-dioxolane et un triazole-cétone. Les 3 médicaments ont inhibé de manière similaire les formes recombinantes et brutes de HO-2. La forme microsomale brute splénique de HO-1 a été plus sensible à l'inhibition que la forme recombinante tronquée. Cette différence est attribuée aux acides aminés surnuméraires dans l'enzyme complète. Ces observations pourraient être utiles pour la conception d'inhibiteurs de HO et d'autres protéines membranaires.
    Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 03/2010; 88(4):480-486. · 1.56 Impact Factor
  • European Journal of Pain Supplements 01/2010; 4(1):56-57.
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    ABSTRACT: Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a member of the heat shock protein family, plays a key role as a sensor and regulator of oxidative stress. Herein, we identify HO-1 as a biomarker and potential therapeutic target for advanced prostate cancer (PCA). Immunohistochemical analysis of prostate tissue using a progression tissue microarray from patients with localized PCA and across several stages of disease progression revealed a significant elevation of HO-1 expression in cancer epithelial cells, but not in surrounding stromal cells, from hormone-refractory PCA (HRPCA) compared with hormone-responsive PCA and benign tissue. Silencing the ho-1 gene in HRPCA cells decreased the HO-1 activity, oxidative stress, and activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase-extracellular signal-regulated kinase/p38 kinase. This coincided with reduced cell proliferation, cell survival, and cell invasion in vitro, as well as inhibition of prostate tumor growth and lymph node and lung metastases in vivo. The effect of ho-1 silencing on these oncogenic features was mimicked by exposure of cells to a novel selective small-molecule HO-1 inhibitor referred to as OB-24. OB-24 selectively inhibited HO-1 activity in PCA cells, which correlated with a reduction of protein carbonylation and reactive oxygen species formation. Moreover, OB-24 significantly inhibited cell proliferation in vitro and tumor growth and lymph node/lung metastases in vivo. A potent synergistic activity was observed when OB-24 was combined with Taxol. Together, these results establish HO-1 as a potential therapeutic target for advanced PCA.
    Cancer Research 10/2009; 69(20):8017-8024. · 9.28 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

290 Citations
150.89 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2001–2014
    • Queen's University
      • • Department of Chemistry
      • • Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
      Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • 2012
    • University of Toronto
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2006
    • Stanford Medicine
      • Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine
      Stanford, California, United States