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Benyi Li, M.D., PhD

 Benyi Li portrait
Professor, Urologic Surgery

Professional Background

I received my medical education in China and my Ph.D. work in Japan. After moved to the US in 1998, I stayed away from clinical work but focused on urological research. After 2 postdoc fellowships at Moffitt Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine, I joined the KUMC Urology faculty at the end of 2001 and established the basic research program for the department. My research topic is mainly on prostate cancer, aiming to develop novel and clinically beneficial therapeutics for patients with advanced prostate cancers.



The goal of my laboratory is to uncover the mechanisms responsible for cancer development and progression at a molecular level, and subsequently to develop novel therapeutic approaches for effective treatment. In the past several years we have identified the PI3K/p110beta and its downstream targets AKT and SGK1 are involved in AR transactivation and prostate cancer progression. Based on these findings, we developed a novel p110beta-specific inhibitor BL140 to treat metastatic prostate cancers. Currently, the project is ongoing at the preclinical stage. In addition, a small peptide strategy has been developed to trigger AR protein degradation in prostate cancer cells. A startup biotech company “ARtide Therapeutics LLC” was established to commercialize this small peptide technology. The natural compound Alternol was purified from a fungi fermentation. We demonstrated that Alternol triggers ROS-dependent apoptotic cell death preferentially in malignant but not benign cells. We also identified 14 cellular proteins that are the Alternol-interacting proteins including 5 metabolic enzymes. Recently we determined that the metabolic enzyme XDH/XO is responsible for Alternol-induced ROS accumulation in prostate cancer cells. Further investigation is ongoing to fully elucidate Alternol action on human cancer cells.