J. Thomas  Pento , Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Phone (405) 271-6593  x47244
Fax (405) 271-7505
Office   CPB 325

Research Summary

Research Interests
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer found in women and results in the death of approximately 46,000 women each year in the US. An important characteristic of tumor malignancy and the major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with cancer is the ability of tumor cells to metastasize and spread to distant sites in the body. Thus, a major focus of the research in my laboratory over the past 40 years has been the development of chemopreventive strategies designed to control or prevent the metastatic process. In this research we have developed unique models of cellular metastasis which are employed to study tumor cell motility and the metastatic process; compared the antimetastatic activity of candidate antiestrogenic compounds using human breast cancer cell lines; examined mechanisms of breast cancer cell motility and changes in tumor cell morphology; identified endogenous growth factors that enhance tumor cell motility and metastasis and identified novel therapeutic targets for the treatment or prevention of cancer metastasis.

Based on the results of our previous studies with Keratinocyte Growth Factor (KGF), and the existing literature, it appears that KGF would be an ideal therapeutic target, since it is produced by stromal tissue surrounding breast tumors, appears to be involved in premalignant progression of breast epithelial cells and may act as an early signal in tumor cell proliferation and the initiation of the metastatic process. We have shown that KGF produces massive stimulation of human breast cancer cells in culture and metastatic development in nude mouse xenografts. These results indicate that KGF is an early signal in the progression and metastatic development of breast cancer, and thus inhibition of KGF/KGFR and related signal transduction would be an ideal and novel therapeutic target.

The goal of our current research is to examine the role of KGF in the metastatic progression of breast cancer and to identify KGF inhibitors that can be employed to reduce of prevent breast cancer metastasis. The results of our studies may lead to the development of a new class therapeutic agents for the treatment and/or prevention of breast cancer and its metastatic spread. We are currently patenting this novel technology and seeking support from the pharmaceutical industry for the development of new and more effective therapeutic agents.

Education & Experience

B.A., Chemistry, West Virginia University, 1965
West Virginia University, Department of Chemistry, Morgantown, West Virginia, 1962-65
Waynesburg College, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 1961-62
West Virginia University, Department of Pharmacology, Morgantown, West Virginia, 1965-67
M.S., Pharmacology, West Virginia University, 1967
University of Missouri, Department of Pharmacology and Space Sciences Research Center, Columbia, Missouri, 1967-69
Ph.D., Pharmacology, University of Missouri, 1970

Honors & Service

  • AMOCO Faculty Teaching Award, 1988
  • Associates Distinguished Lecturship, 1988
  • Noble Foundation Presidential Professorship, 1996
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Selected Publications & Presentations

  1. Pento j T. Monitoring circulating tumor cells (CTC) clusters for the early diagnosis of cancer, its progression and responsiveness to chemotherapy Drugs of the Future. 2016; 41: 25-27.
  2. Pento J T. Xenograft model for the identification of inhibitors of cancer progression and metastasis Drugs of the Future. 2015; 40: 109-115.
  3. Kessinger J W, Mehta M, Lerner M R, Brackett D J, Brueggemeier R W, Li P K, Pento J T. Oncolytic potential of a novel KGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor using a KGFR-selective breast cancer xenograft model Anticancer Research. 2015; 35: 47-52.
  4. Pento J T. Development of aquaporin inhibitorsfor the treatment of cancer and other diseases Drugs of the Future. 2015; 40: 21-25.
  5. Pathuri G, Li Q, Mohammed A, Gali H, Pento J, Rao C V. Synthesis and in vivo evaluation of N-ethylamino-2-oxo-1,2-dihydro-quinoline-3-carboxamide for inhibition of intestinal tumorigenesis in APC(Min)(/)(+) mice. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters. 2014; 24: 1380-1382.
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Current Grants Awarded

  • NIH - Selective KGFR Antagonists for the Prevention of Cancer Metastasis

Completed Grants

  • 7/1/2003 - 6/30/2006 Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) - Targeting L-Methioninase to human cancer cells
  • 7/1/2004 - 12/31/2005 Presbyterian Health Foundation (PHF) - Targeting L-Methioninase to human breast cancer cells