About This Project1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Current treatments for a specific subtype of breast cancer (HER2+), is not sufficient, as patients often experience cancer recurrence. The goal of this project is to direct a patient's own body to "re-direct" these cancer cells to behave more like normal cells -- potentially providing an alternate form of treatment while making the cancer cells more susceptible to current treatments.
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What is the context of this research?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women. Incidence is such that 1 woman in 8 is expected to develop breast cancer in her lifetime.
My lab uses models where we force breast cancer cells to behave like normal cells. We have termed this cancer cell “redirection.” In our models cancer cells lose their ability to form tumors. The redirected cells behave like normal cells and even produce milk following pregnancy.
Tumor cells are redirected by chemical cues from a patient's body. We have data pointing to a number of different cues involved in redirection. This project will focus on one of these potential signals.
Redirected cells have the potential to be more sensitive to current chemotherapies. This means a reduction in toxic effects of the drugs will need to be endured.
What is the significance of this project?
One subtype of breast cancer is classified as HER2+. HER2+ is observed in 20-30% of breast cancers and is inversely correlated with patient survival.
HER2 is the cell surface receptor responsible for receiving chemical signals and initiating a cell's response. Mutated HER2+ results in cells believing they are constantly being told to grow. This results in uncontrolled growth, cancer.
HER2+ breast cancer is currently treated using therapeutics such as Herceptin. Patients receiving these therapies often develop resistance to the therapy and the cancer returns. Therefore, a new treatment for HER2+ breast cancer is necessary.
What are the goals of the project?
The goal of this project is to determine if one of our potential targets is involved in breast cancer cell redirection.
1. Knockdown expression of our target in our models.
2. Compare cancer forming ability of our test cells to our control cancer cells.
3. Compare test cell and control cancer cell genetic profiles. This will help discover new anti-cancer targets.
This is a simple project that requires three budget items. We need reagents to block specific gene function, the shRNA reagents. We need to separate cancer cells from normal cells in order to analyze them. Cell sorting facility costs will cover this process. Finally, we need to look at what effects our experiment had on the cancer cells, that is where the affymetrix arrays come in.
Meet the Team
Team BioAfter earning my B.S. in biotechnology from the Rochester Institute of Technology and my Ph.D. in cell biology from North Carolina State I moved to the National Cancer Institute. It was there that I became involved in cancer research, specifically breast cancer research. As a husband, son, and father of daughters, the fight against breast cancer is personal.
This project will progress the fight against not only breast cancer but all forms of cancer. I have suffered losses due to cancer. I have lost my father, my mother is currently fighting cancer and I lost my prom date to breast cancer. It is time we win this fight.
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