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UNC physician-scientist receives grant to study breast cancer brain metastases

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced today that Carey Anders, MD, assistant professor of medicine and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center will receive a Breast Cancer Research Foundation-AACR Grant for Translational Breast Cancer Research. The $181,000 grant will be presented at the organization's 102nd Annual Meeting, to be held in Orlando, Florida, April 2-6.

The grant will fund laboratory research to test whether a new class of drugs called PARP-inhibitors, which have successfully been used to treat other types of cancers, along with nanoparticle anti-cancer agents may be effective in treating brain metastases from triple-negative breast cancer.

Approximately 200,000 women are diagnosed worldwide each year with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive subset of breast cancer that lacks expression of the estrogen and progesterone receptors and the HER2 protein. This type of breast cancer is over-represented among women with advanced breast cancer.

According to Anders, recent studies show that about half of women with advanced triple-negative breast cancer experience a recurrence in the central nervous system.

"It is very frustrating as a doctor because there is no effective chemotherapy to treat breast cancer brain metastases and women who experience a recurrence in the central nervous system are frequently excluded from promising clinical trials," says Anders.

"We hope that our work will build the foundation to move forward to design clinical trials for these patients that combine PARP inhibitors in combination with nanoparticle chemotherapies aimed at improving survival for these patients," she adds.

Anders points out that this type of study would not be possible at many other institutions that do not have the laboratory models in place to accurately reproduce this type of cancer for preclinical testing of therapeutic agents. She credits the collaborative environment at UNC Lineberger and the assistance of her mentors, UNC Lineberger members Lisa Carey, MD, and Charles Perou, PhD, whose work on triple-negative breast cancer has informed the entire field.


Contact: Ellen de Graffenreid
University of North Carolina School of Medicine

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