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Linda Vahdat, MD, MBA
Chief of Medical Oncology
Clinical Director of Cancer Services, Norwalk Hospital
Member, Breast Medicine Service
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, NY
Goal: To improve the treatment of high-risk triple-negative breast cancer
Impact: Dr. Vahdat is testing a novel treatment for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) by targeting copper, which plays an integral role in the process of metastasis, both within tumor cells and in the tumor microenvironment. The therapeutic depletion of copper has the potential to enhance standard chemotherapy and prevent metastasis in patients with high-risk TNBC.
What’s next: She and her team are conducting a phase II clinical trial studying the chemotherapy capecitabine combined with tetrathiomolybdate, a copper depletion compound in patients who have a high risk of recurrence.
TNBC accounts for 15-20 percent of all breast cancers but makes up 50 percent of metastatic breast cancers. Patients who complete chemotherapy before surgery and have significant residual disease at the time of surgery, are at highest risk for relapse. The only treatment options for these patients are chemotherapy with the drug capecitabine and radiation. There is an urgent need to develop new treatment strategies for TNBC to reduce relapse and improve survival. Dr. Vahdat’s goal is to improve TNBC treatment by removing copper, a key component that tumors need to metastasize.
Full Research Summary
Research goal: Developing a novel strategy to prevent the spread of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) by targeting copper in the tumor microenvironment.
Impact: Treatment options for advanced TNBC are limited. Dr. Vahdat aims to extend the lives of patients with TNBC by significantly reducing relapse with a well-tolerated oral medication to deplete copper in the tumor microenvironment. Copper is a critical molecule for metastasis and is used by tumor cells, as well as cells in the surrounding tumor microenvironment. Combining copper depletion with standard chemotherapy may prove to be an effective treatment strategy to prevent metastases in patients with high-risk TNBC.
Current investigation: Dr. Vahdat is currently developing a phase II clinical trial to study the standard chemotherapy capecitabine versus capecitabine and tetrathiomolybdate, a copper depletion compound, in patients diagnosed with TNBC who are at high risk of having their disease recur.
Linda Vahdat, MD, MBA is the Chief of Cancer Services at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Norwalk Hospital and is a senior member of the Breast Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Evelyn Lauder Breast Center. She earned her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management. She has performed clinical and translational research in breast cancer for 24 years with a focus on new therapies in patients with high risk of relapse and metastatic disease. Over the course of 15 years, Dr. Vahdat, directed and built an integrated Program at Weill Cornell Medicine whose strategy is not only to treat breast cancer metastases, but to try to prevent them through novel drugs targeting minimal residual disease. She has a particular research interest in triple-negative breast cancer and founded a clinic dedicated to the integrated research and treatment of triple negative breast cancer at Weill Cornell Medicine in January 2014. Her major research focus is to understand the process of tumor metastases in breast cancer patients at high risk of relapse and to develop drugs to interrupt that process.
The Forrest & Frances Lattner Foundation Award