HUNTSVILLE, Ala. The most commonly diagnosed form of breast cancer, termed estrogen receptor positive or ER+, accounts for the largest percentage of breast cancer deaths each year. Research by scientists at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center aims to provide physicians a more targeted approach to treating ER+ breast cancer.
"Can we find something in the genome that correlates with those patients who respond to treatment as opposed to those who do not?" posed Rick Myers, Ph.D., president and director of HudsonAlpha. Myers, principal investigator on the nearly $1 million grant recently awarded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, said researchers have an unprecedented opportunity to identify molecular signatures that could mean faster, more effective treatments.
Myers, along with Katherine Varley, Ph.D., at HudsonAlpha, and Andres Forero, M.D., and Don Buchsbaum, Ph.D., of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, will evaluate the genetic composition of breast cancer cells obtained from an investigator initiated trial that combined two medications; one that blocks estrogen action and the other a monoclonal antibody that blocks formation of vessels in the tumors. The patients with ER+ breast cancer participating in the trial provided biopsy specimens from primary tumors prior to treatment and at six weeks after the initiation of therapy. Physicians and scientists at UAB, including Forero and Buchsbaum, led the clinical trial.
"The trial involved a unique combination of drugs," said Myers, "and some women responded well to the treatment and others did not. With this Komen award, we will use new technologies to examine all the genes the entire genomes in the tumor tissues from the women who participated, in hopes of identifying molecular signatures specific for those who respond versus those who do not respond." Physicians could then use these signatures, or bi
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HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology