Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
Hunter College, City University of New York
New York, New York
Studies are focused on identifying new therapeutic approaches in advanced breast cancer.
A new combination approach is being tested in triple negative breast cancer, while new targets are explored in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers.
This work can have significant impact in expanding the use of PARP inhibitors to more TNBC patients.
Dr. Bargonetti's team focuses on two of the most critical proteins that promote breast cancer, namely mutant p53, a driver of triple negative breast cancers (TNBC), and MDM2, a driver of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancers. Under normal conditions, these proteins work together to prevent damaged cells from dividing. However, they often become dysregulated in cancer and promote tumor growth.
Dr. Bargonetti and colleagues recently discovered that metastatic TNBC that harbor a mutation in p53 are sensitive to PARP inhibitors, a class of drugs being tested in clinical trials for TNBC and BRCA-related breast cancers. Her team is testing a novel approach that couples the mutant p53 biomkarker to PARP inhibitors in a combined platform for diagnostics and therapeutics for TNBC. This “theranostic” approach, a new type of personalized medicine, may advance the use of PARP inhibitors in TNBC.
They will validate the basic biology of this approach in TNBC and explore MDM2-based theranostic targets for ER-positive breast. They continue to study whether MDM2 expression promotes the survival of circulating tumor cells and will explore other p53-independent MDM2 targets and mutant p53 proteins as potential therapeutic strategies in triple negative and ER-positive breast cancers.
This ongoing research is focused on developing more personalized therapies for ER-positive breast cancer and TNBC.
Dr. Bargonetti began at Hunter College as an Assistant Professor in 1994 and is currently a Full Professor and the Chair of the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental PhD Subprogram in Biology at the CUNY Graduate Center. Professor Bargonetti has carried out extensive research on the wild-type p53 protein (which assists in the suppression of tumor cells) and oncogenic mutant p53 (which is a tumor promoter). She is also a leader in the field of MDM2 research concerning its involvement in the promotion of breast cancer through both chromatin-based inhibition of the p53 pathway and cell growth promotion through p53-independent mechanisms. She was a member of the National Cancer Policy Board from 2002 until 2005 (a board of the Institution of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academies) and currently serves on the NIH Tumor Cell Biology study section.