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Bruce G. Haffty, MD
Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
New Brunswick, New Jersey
- Seeking to improve outcomes in breast cancer by combining targeted therapies with radiation therapy.
- Multiple studies are ongoing to test targeted therapies in combination with radiation.
- These studies are providing insight into novel strategies to enhance the effect of radiation therapy and improve outcomes for breast cancer patients.
Radiation therapy is an important component in prevention of local recurrence of breast cancer after surgery. However, some tumors are resistant to the killing effects of radiation, reducing the benefit to patients. Dr. Haffty is pursuing novel combination approaches to improve the effectiveness of radiation to improve outcomes for women with breast cancer.
Full Research Summary
Dr. Haffty’s group has been investigating several molecular targets in combination with radiation therapy to enhance effectiveness of radiation in patients who have become resistant to this therapy. In ongoing research, they have been exploring a novel drug (ONC-201) that selectively targets the cell death pathway known as TRAIL. The drug is not toxic to normal tissues and is currently in early phase human trials.
Radiation, in addition to its well-known DNA-damaging cytotoxicity, has been shown to induce TRAIL activity in tumors and its surrounding stromal cells. Dr. Haffty’s team has shown that the combination of ONC201 with radiation dramatically improved the effectiveness of radiation therapy in laboratory experiments and that its effect involved the immune system. However, the mechanism is not well understood.
This year, they will explore the mechanisms of this combined therapy and conduct studies to better understand the role of the immune system in its effectiveness. In addition, they will continue to work with other drugs in combination with radiation that have produced promising results in laboratory experiments.
In addition to his laboratory studies, Dr. Haffty has been involved in several novel clinical trials to test the efficacy of shortening the time of radiation therapy from 5-6 weeks to 3 weeks. These trials are paving the way toward reduced treatment times, inconvenience and toxicity in women undergoing radiation for breast cancer. He continues to follow patients for longer term outcomes and toxicity with this approach.
Bruce G. Haffty, MD is Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School and Associate Director, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. His medical school training, internship, residency and chief residency was at Yale. Dr. Haffty was a Professor of Yale’s Department of Therapeutic Radiology, served as residency program director from 1992-2004, and Vice Chairman and Clinical Director from 2002-2005. He moved to the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Cancer Institute of New Jersey in 2005.
Dr. Haffty’s clinical area of expertise is breast cancer, and he has focused on outcomes and prognostic factors women undergoing radiation therapy, evaluating novel molecular markers and potential targets, for which he has had many research grants and conducted numerous clinical and translational research programs. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles and 30 book chapters. He is consistently listed as one of the country’s leading physicians by Best Doctors in America and Top Doctors in New York and New Jersey. In addition to a busy clinical practice, Dr. Haffty has served on numerous national committees related to research and education in breast cancer and radiation oncology. He is currently an Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Haffty is a Past President of the American Board of Radiology and the American Radium Society, past Chairman of the Residency Review Committee in Radiation Oncology, and the current President and incoming Chairman of the Board of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.