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New clinical trial to test novel approach to treat triple-negative breast cancer
Date:6/2/2011

Baltimore, MD -- A multicenter clinical trial led by a researcher at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center will evaluate a new approach to treat triple-negative breast cancer, an often-aggressive type of cancer that is more common among African-Americans and young women. The study will help researchers determine if an experimental drug, entinostat, can reprogram tumor cells to express a protein called an estrogen receptor to make them sensitive to hormone therapy.

Saranya Chumsri, M.D., an oncologist at the Greenebaum Cancer Center and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is the principal investigator of the newly opened National Cancer Institute-funded study. The trial is based on laboratory studies by Angela H. Brodie, Ph.D., an internationally recognized University of Maryland breast cancer researcher, and her colleagues. Their research, recently published in the journal Cancer Research, found that entinostat can cause triple-negative breast cancer cells to become sensitive to a hormone therapy such as an aromatase inhibitor. Dr. Brodie pioneered the development of aromatase inhibitors, a class of breast cancer drugs that reduces the level of estrogen produced by the body, thereby cutting off the fuel to cancer cells.

In this Phase II trial, doctors will treat newly diagnosed postmenopausal patients with entinostat and an aromatase inhibitor called anastrozole (Arimidex) before they have surgery to remove their cancer. Researchers will analyze tissue from the tumor and blood samples to evaluate whether the treatment is effective. After surgery, patients will receive standard treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation.

"We hope that entinostat will make the tumor cells more sensitive to the drug anastrozole, causing the tumor to shrink or, at the very least, stop growing," Dr. Chumsri says. "For patients with triple-negative breast cancer, che
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Contact: Karen E. Warmkessel
kwarmkessel@umm.edu
410-328-8919
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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