AACR-Genentech BioOncology Career Development Award for Cancer Research on the HER Family Pathway

The AACR-Genentech BioOncology Career Development Award for Cancer Research on the HER Family Pathway represents a joint effort to encourage and support junior faculty who are in the first four years of a faculty appointment (at the start of the grant term) to conduct cancer research on the HER family pathway and establish successful career paths in this field. Proposed research projects are restricted to basic, translational, clinical, or epidemiological projects that substantially advance the field of cancer research on the HER family pathway.

2013 Grantee

Hanna Yoko Irie, MD, PhDHanna Yoko Irie, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Mount Sinai School of  Medicine (Tisch Cancer Institute)
New York, New York
Novel Strategies to Overcome Her2 Targeted Therapy Resistance 

Despite advances in screening and detection, nearly 40,000 women die yearly of breast cancer, mostly from treatment-resistant, metastatic disease. This mandates an improved understanding of the processes that regulate metastatic potential, as well as identification of novel therapeutic strategies tailored for individual patients. For patients with Her2+ breast cancers, targeted therapies including antibodies (Herceptin) and small molecule inhibitors (Lapatinib) have been incorporated into standard of care with improvement in patient outcomes. However, responses are not uniform and often incomplete, as evidenced by recurrent or progressive disease; strategies to enhance sensitivity to or overcome resistance to these therapies are needed. My laboratory utilizes an integrated approach to developing therapeutic strategies for treatment-refractory Her2+ breast cancers; we combine tumor genetic data with functional genomic and proteomic screens to understand the diverse mechanisms by which Her2+ breast cancer cells evade therapies, identify promising novel candidate therapeutic targets and develop biomarkers to identify individual Her2+ tumors that will respond to specific target inhibition.

The AACR-Genentech BioOncology Career Development Award will enable in-depth evaluation of novel regulators of Her2+ breast cancer cell survival as candidate therapeutic targets. We identified these candidates in a genomic screen and include genes that regulate survival of Her2+ breast cancer cells that are resistant to Lapatinib, either intrinsically or acquired through continuous drug exposure. These candidates will be evaluated for their role in in vivo tumor growth and metastasis formation. Several of these validated candidates are amplified in Her2+ breast tumors and will also be evaluated as prognostic biomarkers. In addition, this screen has provided insight into novel mechanisms by which sensitivity to Lapatinib treatment is regulated, and these mechanisms will be further elucidated.

This award will allow me as a physician-scientist and medical oncologist to continue to pursue an active, independent laboratory-based research program while caring for patients at the Dubin Breast Center of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. My patients have always helped me focus my research questions on unmet clinical challenges that many of them face during the course of their care. The award will help support the pre-clinical studies needed to evaluate novel therapeutic strategies for refractory Her2+ breast cancer and to position them for rapid clinical translation.

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