Dr. Arnon Lavie is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. His laboratory is studying the structure and function L-asparaginases with the ultimate goal of developing improved versions as anti-cancer drugs.
Drug safety (in addition to drug efficacy) is major criteria guiding their drug development process. For L-asparaginases, their concomitant L-glutaminase activity has been implicated as the source of many of the observed toxic side effects. To remedy this problem, Dr. Lavie is working to identify variants with no or diminished L-glutaminase activity (to reduce the toxicity) while fully maintaining the anti-cancer L-asparaginase activity.
The most extensive and conclusive work to date, in his research, showcases the fact that L-glutaminase activity in not required for the anti-cancer power of L-asparaginases, and that enzymes lacking this co-activity have a superior safety profile.
His research is focused on cancer therapeutics and the engineering of L-asparaginase.