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Gordon B. Mills, MD, PhD
Chair, Department of Systems Biology
Professor of Medicine and Immunology,
Division of Cancer Medicine
Head, Kleberg Center for Molecular Markers
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Seeking to advance new drugs and drug combinations to clinical trials to benefit patients with breast cancer.
Sophisticated laboratory models are employed to test several immunotherapeutics both alone and in combination with targeted therapy.
These laboratory models have accelerated new treatments to clinical trials and current studies could deliver effective immunotherapy-based treatments to breast cancer patients.
In the past, all breast cancers were treated the same way, which is with chemotherapy– toxic drugs that kill not only cancer cells, but healthy cells as well. Although these therapies are successful for many, only two out of three breast cancer patients will benefit from standard chemotherapy, while at the same time enduring significant side effects.
Technologies that allow scientists to measure levels of DNA, RNA, and proteins are changing how researchers view and treat cancers and are creating an opportunity for personalized medicine.
The key to truly personalized medicine is in understanding the tumor within the context of the individual. For example, a tumor that has a mutated gene does not behave the same way in every woman. Its behavior is influenced by the genetic make-up of the individual.
Dr. Mills and colleagues have established a series of preclinical models of breast cancer. These models allow exploration of the exciting new area of immunotherapy and particularly of combination therapies. They are also tools for preclinical validation of existing drugs to identify mechanisms of resistance and biomarkers of response.
In the coming year, Dr. Mills and team will test several immunotherapeutics both alone and in combination with targeted therapy in these novel breast cancer models. This innovative model system provides a unique opportunity to explore targeted therapies and immunotherapies as well as their combinations to accelerate new therapies to the patient.
Gordon B. Mills, MD, PhD, was recruited to The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in 1994, where he holds the rank of Professor with joint appointments in Systems Biology, Breast Medical Oncology and Immunology, and serves as chairman of the Department of Systems Biology. Dr. Mills is Director of the Kleberg Center for Molecular Markers and Director for the South Campus Research Building II. Dr. Mills is also co-Director of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy. The Center and the Institute are responsible for developing and implementing personalized molecular medicine at MDACC. Dr. Mills has published extensively on the molecular analysis of cancer and currently serves as principal investigator or project investigator on many national peer review grants including Stand Up To Cancer, NIH/NCI SPOREs U24 and PPGs, Department of Defense, CPRIT and Komen Foundation grants, and is a collaborator on multiple other national grants. He has recently been awarded the Komen Brinker award for Scientific Excellence and the Stand up to Cancer Laura Ziskin Prize for mentoring. Dr. Mills has published more than 700 papers; holds more than 20 patents related to novel technologies and molecular markers and has co-founded an early diagnostics company. He currently sits on the scientific advisory boards of multiple companies and venture capital groups.