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Hanna Irie, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine and Oncological Sciences
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, New York
Goal: To provide new therapeutic options for patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
Impact: Drs. Port and Irie have identified a promising target that can enhance sensitivity of TNBC cells to chemotherapy and may also enhance anti-cancer immune responses. Their findings could lead to the development of better therapeutic strategies for TNBC.
What’s next: Using laboratory models of TNBC, the team will validate a drug against this novel target and translate these findings to combat high-risk, chemotherapy-resistant TNBC.
TNBC is an aggressive form of the disease that is more likely to spread and is difficult to treat. Chemotherapy is standard of care for patients with TNBC, but resistance is common; plus, there are few targeted therapies available for TNBC. Drs. Port and Irie are investigating ways to improve response to existing treatments and identifying new targets for drug development. They are currently studying a promising target they discovered that could prevent the growth of TNBC and improve response to chemotherapy.
Full Research Summary
Research area: Improving response to therapies in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and identifying new targets for drug development.
Impact: Better therapeutic strategies are urgently needed for TNBC, an aggressive form of breast cancer that is more likely to spread and is challenging to treat. Patient response to standard chemotherapy is highly varied, and few targeted therapies exist to treat TNBC. Drs. Port and Irie are focused on identifying and validating novel therapeutic strategies to combat high-risk, chemotherapy-resistant TNBC by targeting processes that promote the growth, survival, and spread of breast cancer cells.
Current investigation: The team has been studying a protein called PRKCQ that not only regulates the growth and invasiveness of TNBC cells but could also impact immune cells that infiltrate the tumor, protect cells from chemotherapy treatment, and promote metastasis.
What they’ve learned so far: Drs. Port and Irie have successfully targeted PRKCQ in the laboratory with a novel drug that enhances tumor cell sensitivity to chemotherapy and suppresses their growth and ability to spread.
What’s next: The team will continue to explore how TNBC becomes resistant to therapy, validate their new drug in laboratory models, and translate their findings to treat high-risk, chemotherapy-resistant TNBC.
Dr. Irie is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Oncological Sciences at the Tisch Cancer Institute and Dubin Breast Center of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She received her MD and PhD degrees from Harvard Medical School and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a clinical fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. As a medical oncologist, she specializes in the treatment of patients with breast cancer, with a special focus on improving care for patients with triple negative cancers for whom current treatment options are limited. In addition to patient care, she directs a lab-based translational breast cancer research program. The challenges faced by many of her patients drive the focus of the program's research. Her laboratory focuses on identifying novel therapeutic targets for breast cancer, particularly for treatment-resistant breast cancers, and understanding the mechanisms by which these candidate genes regulate breast tumor cell behavior. They are also developing models that more accurately mirror treatment-resistant triple negative cancers so that they can be used to validate more effective treatment strategies and support clinical studies.