Breast Cancer: Research Areas

Breast cancer investigators at the Perlmutter Cancer Center are focusing on five broad areas of study:

  • Epidemiology and prevention: response, resistance, and metastasis of locally advanced breast cancer (LABC), a persistently under-studied form of breast cancer common among the medically underserved and a leading presentation of breast cancer worldwide 
  • Hormone receptors and signaling pathways involved in breast cancer
  • Invasiveness, metastasis, and the development of agents that inhibit angiogenesis (the development of blood vessels that a tumor needs to grow and spread)
  • Tumor immunology:  induction of an immune response against a tumor using targeted radiation therapy
  • Radiobiology and physics:  new approaches and uses for radiation treatment in breast cancer; expansion of the biological understanding of radiation-induced fibrosis and the molecular understanding of radiation's effects on normal and cancerous breast tissue

Specific avenues of study include:

Epidemiology and Prevention

  • Protective role of pregnancy in maternal breast and ovarian cancers
  • Role of polymorphisms in DNA repair pathways in the etiology of breast cancer
  • Pituitary hormones, growth hormone, and prolactin in mammary gland development and breast cancer risk
  • Novel biomarkers for the early detection of breast cancer
  • Inflammatory responses and oxidative stress in breast cancer development
  • Socio-cultural factors in care-seeking behavior and treatment for breast cancer
  • Genetic and molecular markers for targeted treatment of LABC in New York women, with the goal of translating the Akt/mTOR pathway to treatment of LABC
  • Adherence to treatment issues among breast cancer patients with LABC
  • Fertility following breast cancer treatment

Hormone Receptors and Signal Transduction

  • Role of nuclear hormone receptors in breast cancer
  • Signal transduction and transcriptional regulation by ER, AR, and GR receptors
  • Differential effects of ER-interacting proteins on ER activity
  • Circulating estrogenic molecules and breast cancer risk
  • Role of IGF-1 in breast cancer development and progression
  • Breast cancer chemoprevention by SOM230, an IGF-1 action inhibitor

Invasiveness, Metastasis, and Angiogenesis: Extracellular Matrix (ECM) Studies

  • Latent forms of TGF-β1 and TGF-β3 and their roles in invasion and metastasis
  • ECM in breast cancer invasion and metastasis
  • Non-proteolytic roles of proteinases in breast cancer cell proliferation and migration
  • Mammary developmental changes in breast cancer invasiveness and metastasis
  • Matrix remodeling in angiogenesis and breast cancer invasion
  • Role of STAT3 in breast cancer progression
  • Kinases and ubiquitylating enzymes in breast cancer, SWI/SNF in breast cancer development
  • Cellular protein synthesis in breast cancer invasion and metastasis
  • LABC angiogenesis and metastasis
  • TGF-β1 and VEGF during angiogenesis
  • Translational control and the mTOR pathway in breast cancer hypoxia, tumor progression, and angiogenesis
  • New biomarkers for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) invasion and LABC metastasis
  • Cytologic characterization of breast lesion microinvasion
  • Lymphadenectomy application in breast cancer and melanoma
  • Breast tissue bank
  • Cofactors of metastasis of large breast tumors
  • Development of anti-angiogenic PTC299, a specific inhibitor of VEGF mRNA translation

Immunity and Tumor Immunology

  • Radiation therapy to enhance the effectiveness of immunotherapy, chemoradiation, and tumor immunity
  • STAT activation by janus kinases

Radiobiology and Physics Research

  • TGF-β1 in post-radiation breast fibrosis
  • Chemoradiation and LABC:  molecular and genetic markers to predict treatment response
  • Radiation/chemotherapy resistance
  • TAMs, tumor response to chemoradiation, and breast tumor progression