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BCRF Investigator Since

2002

Donor Recognition

The Estée Lauder Award

Area(s) of Focus

Jenny C. Chang, MD

Director, Methodist Cancer Center
Professor, Weill Cornell Medical College
The Methodist Hospital Research Institute
Houston, Texas

Current Research

  • Seeking to identify new combination approaches for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC)

  • Studies are ongoing to test novel targeted therapies in combination with immunotherapy in laboratory models of TNBC.

  • Combination approaches to enhance the natural immune environment coud dramatically improve response to immunotherapies in TNBC.

Patients with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) have poor outcomes due to high rates of recurrence, metastatic spread, and lack of approved targeted therapies. Therefore, new targeted therapeutic approaches are urgently needed.

Recently approved, immune-based therapies called checkpoint inhibitors have improved outcomes in several challenging cancers including advanced lung cancer, melanoma, and some TNBC. However most TNBC tumors do not respond to this therapy and combination approaches that enhance anti-tumor immunity will be important for effective immunotherapy in breast cancer.

In previous work, Dr. Chang and colleagues identified a molecule called nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) as a driver in promoting tumor growth and metastasis. She is testing anti-iNOS therapy plus an immune-enhancing cytokine called IL-12 in combination with immunotherapy. Their studies will utilize state-of-the-art laboratory models bearing a human immune system and harboring patient-derived tumors (PDXs). 

Results from these studies could significantly improve the therapeutic options for patients with TNBC and demonstrate the efficiency of their model system to accelerate preclinical studies into clinical applications to improve outcomes of patients with TNBC. 

Bio

Dr. Chang obtained medical degree from Cambridge University, England and completed fellowship in medical oncology at the Royal Marsden Hospital/Institute for Cancer Research. She was awarded research doctorate from the University of London. Breast cancer has been the focus of her research. She plans to improve the outcome of breast cancer patients by translating scientific discoveries directly into clinical practice and therapeutics. To this end, her most recent work has centered on identifying the mechanisms by which breast cancer stem cells survive chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal therapy, leading to recurrences, relapses, and metastasis. Her recent work has focused on the intrinsic therapy resistance of cancer stem cells, resulting in several publications and international presentations. In addition, she holds several federal grants evaluating novel biologic agents and patents on new technological advances, especially in the area of high throughput molecular profiling.