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Annette R. Khaled, PhD

Professor
Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences
College of Medicine
University of Central Florida
Orlando, Florida

Current Research

  • Seeking novel approaches to prevent cancer recurrence and metastasis.

  • Laboratory studies are conducted to evaluate a drug with dual activity that blocks cancer stem cell growth, while stimulating an anti-tumor immune response.

  • These studies could identify a novel "two-hit” approach that prevents breast cancer relapse and metastasis to extend the lives of breast cancer survivors.

Breast cancers that spread to other tissues are the primary cause of death in breast cancer patients. Thus, stopping this cancer spread will save thousands of lives each year. Dr. Khaled identified a unique protein that cancer cells need in order to spread. She is conducting laboratory studies to understand its role in cancer growth and identify strategies to therapeutically target it.

Full Research Summary

Breast cancer-related deaths have declined dramatically over the last two decades. Virtually all deaths due to breast cancer are a result of metastasis (breast cancer that has spread to other tissues). While treatments are extending the lives of many women diagnosed with early breast cancer, they are much less effective against metastatic disease. 

Dr. Khaled’s research is focused on designing a new treatment for metastatic disease that, with a companion diagnostic test, can be used to extend the lives of thousands of patients currently suffering from breast cancer. 

Her laboratory discovered a large complex called CCT that is abundant in cancer cells. CCT belongs to a family of proteins called chaperonins that fold proteins into their functional three-dimensional shape. CCT is unique because while normal cells produce it, cancer cells need more of it to satisfy their extra protein and energy needs, creating a novel and specific target for cancer therapy. 

In the last year, her team identified a new drug that targets CCT and may eliminate the stem cells that give rise to cancers, while also stimulating the body's anti-cancer immune response. 

This year, she is continuing these studies to better understand the role of CCT in cancer growth and how blocking it stimulates the immune system to act like a vaccine that can prevent cancer recurrence. 

Biography

Dr. Annette R. Khaled joined the faculty of the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine (COM) after completing her pre-doctoral studies at the University of Florida and her post-doctoral studies at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). She is the recipient of multiple competitive grant awards including a career development award (K22) from NCI and multiple independent investigator grants (RO1) from NCI, NIGMS and recently, NIBIB. Research in the Khaled lab focuses on treatments for metastatic cancer. Using her expertise in cancer biology and immunology and employing the latest research tools and cancer models, Dr. Khaled is developing a new therapeutic approach to impair the ability of cancer cells to spread to other organs in the body by harnessing the body’s own immune system.  She works with a team of scientists with complementary expertise in immunotherapy and nanomedicine as well as clinical partners at Florida Hospital and Orlando VAMC to produce the next generation drugs to treat patients with advanced and incurable forms of cancer. Dr. Khaled is also a dedicated mentor training pre-doctoral and postdoctoral scientists for careers in academia and biotechnology. She serves on multiple study sections, society scientific boards and editorial boards. She was coordinator of the Biomedical PhD program, past president of the COM Faculty Council, is a UCF faculty senator, and chairs the UCF graduate council. Dr. Khaled was also a past recipient of a Florida Breast Cancer Foundation award.

BCRF Investigator Since

2015

Donor Recognition

The AutoNation Cure Bowl Award

Area(s) of Focus