A major Department of Defense grant to researchers Jennifer Richer, PhD, and Anthony Elias, MD, at the University of Colorado Cancer Center aids development of drugs that target androgen receptors as a driver of breast cancer.
In August 2013, patient Linda Griffin failed her second aromatase inhibitor. Three and a half years ago, she had been diagnosed with estrogen-positive (ER+) metastatic breast cancer and with August's news she was running out of hormonal therapies.
"My oncologist had been a resident at the University of Colorado and so when my treatment failed, he said it was time to call Dr. Elias," Griffin says.
Anthony Elias, MD, is breast cancer program director at CU Cancer Center and the clinician side of a clinician-researcher team with Jennifer Richer, PhD, associate professor of pathology and co-director of the CU Cancer Center Tissue Processing and Procurement Core. Together, Richer and Elias have spent a decade laying the groundwork for targeting androgen receptors in breast cancer. Now the team expects this major Department of Defense grant will allow them to place androgen receptors alongside those for estrogen and progesterone as hormonal drivers of breast cancer, and a target for drugs that treat the disease.
"Breast cancers have addictions," says Elias. "Some are addicted to estrogen, some to progesterone, some depend on the growth factor HER2. You use drugs to take away these things the cancer needs and the cancer can't grow."
Unfortunately, when doctors use drugs to take away, for example, estrogen from an ER+ tumor, it can eventually develop a new addiction. And not all cancers are addicted to ER, PR or HER2 the three common drivers targeted by current tests and treatments in which case the breast cancer is called "triple negative." In fact, 75 percent of all breast cancers and about 20 percent of triple negative cancers are positive for the androgen receptor. Richer and Elias show that inhibi
|Contact: Erika Matich|
University of Colorado Denver