Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences
College of Medicine
University of Central Florida
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.
Curing breast cancer has been a goal of medicine since the radical mastectomies of the late 19th century. However, for advanced breast cancers, current treatments may only extend survival for a short time.
Dr. Khaled’s laboratory discovered that a large complex called CCT 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.
Dr. Khaled’s research is focused on discovering and optimizing inhibitors of CCT that can be used to treat patients whose cancers have spread to vital organs. In the last year, they 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. She is conducting studies in laboratory models and archived patient tumor samples and blood to confirm these findings and determine the best approach for treating with their chaperonin inhibitor.
Dr. Khaled has engaged a team of specialists from various disciplines to move these finding towards clinical translation.
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.