Titles and Affiliations

Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Genetics
University of Rochester 
Rochester, New York
American Association for Cancer Research

Research area

Treating triple-negative breast cancer by blocking antioxidants the cancer cells need to survive. 

Impact

The most aggressive breast cancer subtype, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), has a higher occurrence in younger women and has the poorest outcome. There are limited therapies for TBNC, highlighting the need for novel treatment strategies to combat this disease. Dr. Harris’ American Association for Cancer Research work, supported by BCRF, is focused on understanding how TNBC captures and uses antioxidants in the blood to grow and to survive treatment with chemotherapy. His research stands to broaden our knowledge of the interplay between breast cancer and its surrounding metabolic environment and to reveal new targets and therapeutic strategies for TNBC.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Harris and his team discovered that TNBC depends on antioxidants to survive. He is building on this finding to test the idea that TNBC cells hijack antioxidants that are made in the body and circulate in the blood. Specifically, the team is undertaking a new way to kill TNBC by blocking a protein, glutathione (GSH), that makes circulating antioxidants available to cells.

What's Next

GSH found outside of cells is maintained by the liver. Dr. Harris and his team will determine if impairing GSH production in the liver can decrease the circulating levels and stunt or stop TNBC cell growth. They will also test the extent to which circulating GSH and the protein that acts as GSH’s gatekeeper into cells, GGT1, supports TNBC survival.

Biography

Isaac Harris, PhD, received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Toronto and conducted research in the lab of Dr. Tak Mak at Princess Margaret Cancer Center. Afterward, he joined the lab of Dr. Joan Brugge at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Recently, Dr. Harris moved to Rochester, NY to open his independent lab at the University of Rochester/Wilmot Cancer Institute. The Harris Lab at the University of Rochester Medical Center and Wilmot Cancer Institute focuses on uncovering the various roles of antioxidants in cancer by using modeling approaches and high-throughput pharmacologic screening techniques.

BCRF Investigator Since

2020

Areas of Focus