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Dream team targets key driver for breast, ovarian, endometrial cancers
Date:5/27/2009

HOUSTON - A Dream Team of leading cancer researchers will accelerate development of drugs to attack a mutated molecular pathway that fuels endometrial, breast and ovarian cancers, funded by a three-year $15 million grant awarded today by Stand Up To Cancer.

The grant is one of five that bring top researchers from different institutions together to speed new cancer treatments to patients. Stand Up to Cancer, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, is a novel charitable initiative that raised most of its funds during a telecast last September that aired simultaneously on ABC, NBC and CBS.

"The pathway involved here is the most common abnormally activated pathway in all of cancer," said Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of M. D. Anderson's Department of Systems Biology and a co-leader on the project with two other scientists. "What we learn in women's cancers will apply to many other types."

Genetic aberrations in the network, known as the PI3K pathway, are found in half of all breast cancer patients, 60 percent of all cases of endometrial cancer and 20 percent of ovarian cancer patients. Other cancers that include a mutationally activated PI3K pathway include melanoma, colon and prostate cancers, brain tumors, and leukemia.

A variety of drugs under development target different aspects of the complex pathway, which Mills describes as a "target-rich environment."

"Our major goal is to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from these drugs, so that we get the right therapy to the right patient the first time," he said. "By the end of three years we are expected to have changed the way in which we manage patients. That's a very large challenge."

Dream Team collaborators with Mills are project leader Lewis C. Cantley, Ph.D., chief, division of signal transduction, Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of systems biology at Harvard Me
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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