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Liewei Wang, MD, PhD
Professor of Pharmacology
Associate Director, Pharmacogenomics Translational Program
Mayo Clinic Medical School
Goal: To develop new therapies for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), an aggressive form of the disease.
Impact: Dr. Wang is testing a new class of drugs he designed that may be highly effective in treating TNBC. His work could lead to new therapies for this subtype of breast cancer, which currently lacks FDA-approved targeted treatments.
What’s next: He and his team aim to begin clinical development of these drugs.
TNBC is a subtype of breast cancer with a high recurrence rate and a poor prognosis. While chemotherapy is an effective option for patients with TNBC, there is an urgent need to develop targeted treatments for this aggressive disease. Dr. Wang is working on a new class of drugs for TNBC that target a protein on the cell that allows tumors to grow and spread.
Full Research Summary
Research area: Developing effective targeted therapies for patients with triple negative breast cancer.
Impact: Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is particularly difficult to treat and has a high likelihood of metastasis – spreading to other tissues beyond the breast. While other forms of breast cancer are treatable with drugs that target estrogen signaling and the HER2 receptor, there are few treatment options and no FDA-approved targeted therapy for patients with TNBC. Dr. Wang’s BCRF research is aiming to identify new targets for TNBC and developing therapies to treat this aggressive type of breast cancer.
Current investigation: Dr. Wang is developing a new treatment approach, inducing cancer cells to undergo rapid cell death. He hopes to provide a potent and efficacious new anticancer drug for treatment of this highly aggressive cancer subtype.
What he’s learned so far: Preliminary studies by Dr. Wang and his team have demonstrated that a new class of drugs is highly effective in killing human breast cancer cells by specifically eliminating a key cancer-causing protein.
What’s next: He and his colleagues aim to move this new class of anti-cancer therapy into clinical development for the treatment of TNBC in the near future.
Dr. Liewei Wang received her medical degree from FuDan University Medical School, Shanghai, followed by a PhD degree in Pharmacology from the Mayo Clinic. She trained in a leading national center for pharmacogenomics (PGx) research. Currently Dr. Wang is Professor of Pharmacology at Mayo where she has developed a research program focused on the use of genomic technology joined with a cell-based model system and clinical samples to study mechanisms of cancer biology and drug response. As Co-PI of the Mayo-NIH Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN) grant for the past decade she has led PGx functional genomic studies of breast cancer designed to identify and understand biomarkers for response to endocrine and chemotherapy of breast cancer. Among those studies are the BCRF funded project in collaboration with Dr. James Ingle, in which her group has discovered a series biomarkers for endocrine response in breast cancer and they are studying the basic mechanisms associated with these biomarkers to help design better individualized endocrine therapy. She also leads a Mayo program developing new experimental models for breast and prostate cancer. Dr. Wang has published extensively in high impact journals and has received the Astellas Award from Astellas Foundation and the 2016 Leon Goldberg Early Investigator Award from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Dr. Wang is a member of the Mayo-NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center and Associate Director of the Pharmacogenomics Program of the Mayo Center for Individualized Medicine.