24 U A B C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R
UAB RESEARCHERS have discovered that a new combination of two existing cancer
drugs can kill triple-negative breast cancer
cells. A highly aggressive subtype of breast
cancer, triple-negative breast cancer does
not express receptors for estrogen, proges-
terone or human epidermal growth factor.
Because most cancer drugs target these
receptors, triple-negative breast cancer is
difficult to treat.
The novel drug combination pairs lapa-
tinib a chemotherapy drug from a class
known as kinase inhibitors with veliparib,
a type of drug known as a PARP inhibitor.
Both lapatinib and veliparib have individu-
ally been shown to be safe and well toler-
ated in breast cancer patients. Lapatinib
is approved for use in human epithelial
growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive
breast cancers, but this is the first time it
has been studied in combination with veli-
parib, both in triple-negative breast cancer
cells and in mouse models.
The UAB findings show that the
lapatinib-veliparib combination produces
persistent damage in the DNA of triple-
negative breast cancer cells, leading to cell
death, says Shih-Hsin (Eddy) Yang, M.D.,
Ph.D., an associate scientist in the experi-
mental therapeutics program at the UAB
Comprehensive Cancer Center.
An expert in DNA repair in cancer cells,
Dr. Yang has been studying PARP inhibitors
in relation to multiple cancer types for sev-
eral years. If you hit triple-negative cancer
cells with lapatinib, among other things, it
breaks down the ability of the cell to repair
its DNA, he explains. By utilizing the
PARP inhibitor on top of that, the cancer
cell continues to accumulate damage to its
DNA, causing the cell to die. This potent
combination causes an interaction that
is lethal to triple-negative breast cancer
Adds Dr. Yang, The intriguing results
of our study point not only to the broader
utility of PARP inhibitors but also to a
potential new combined therapy for triple-
negative breast cancer patients. We are
hoping that this treatment plan can even-
tually improve cure rates while reducing
treatment-related side effects.
UAB Study Reveals Novel Treatment Option for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
TWO UAB RESEARCHERS have received grants to further their research in pediat- ric cancer. Gregory Friedman, M.D., an assistant professor in the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, has been awarded a St. Baldrick s Foundation Scholar grant of $330,000 for a period of three years to conduct research on medulloblastoma, the most common malig- nant brain tumor found in children.
Dr. Friedman, an associate scientist at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, studies the ability of clinically ready viruses, such as the genetically altered herpes simplex virus, to kill brain tumor-initiating cells in difficult-to-treat medulloblastomas. His research team hopes to provide the founda- tion for future pediatric clinical trials.
Frederick Goldman, M.D., a professor in the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, has been awarded a $116,000 grant over two years by the Diamond Blackfan Anemia Foundation in support of his research to find a cure for Diamond- Blackfan anemia (DBA), a rare, childhood
bone marrow-failure syndrome. Dr. Goldman and research
partner Tim Townes, Ph.D., chair-
man of the UAB Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, plan to correct the genetic
defect in skin cells obtained from patients
with DBA, then convert the skin cells into hemato-
poietic stem cells. Drs. Goldman and Townes are both senior scientists at the Cancer Center.
UAB RESEARCHERS RECEIVE PEDIATRIC CANCER GRANTS