MYC was identified as a human oncogene following the discovery that a related gene expressed by an avian virus, v-myc, was found to cause myelocytomatosis (leukemia and sarcoma) in chickens. In humans, the Myc oncoprotein, transcribed from the MYC oncogene, is deregulated in >70% of all cancers. The protein orchestrates a range of cellular functions including apoptosis, metabolism and cell cycle. A variety of oncogenic events, including signal transduction, DNA damage response and protein translation, interface with Myc transcriptional programs making Myc a critical node in cancer development and growth.
Despite the importance of Myc in cancer, there are no approved drugs that directly target Myc. Moreover, there are no small molecule drugs in clinical development that specifically inhibit the action of Myc, in spite of many years’ effort to develop Myc inhibitors.