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Marc E. Lippman, MD
Professor of Oncology and Medicine
Georgetown University Medical Center
Goal: To understand how communication between breast cancer cells and non-cancer cells contributes to tumor progression and metastasis.
Impact: Dr. Lippman is studying a protein called RAGE and cancer-promoting cells around the tumor may contribute to the growth and spread of breast cancer. His findings may lead to the development of new treatment strategies that will improve survival for breast cancer patients.
What’s next: He and his team will evaluate the efficacy of novel RAGE inhibitors they developed on breast cancer progression and metastasis. They aim to confirm their hypothesis that RAGE signaling results in an inflammatory response that promotes breast cancer metastasis, and therapeutic resistance.
The majority of deaths related to breast cancer are caused by breast cancer metastasis, making it imperative to identify better means of combating or preventing this from occurring. Studies have shown that interactions between tumor cells and non-tumor cells nearby can promote tumor growth and spread. Dr. Lippman is studying two important factors in mediating his process—work that may ultimately improve response to chemotherapy and prevent metastasis.
Full Research Summary
Research area: Improving response to chemotherapy and preventing metastasis.
Impact: While there have been many exciting developments in the treatment of localized breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer (MBC)—which occurs when breast cancer spreads to other sites in the body—remains an overwhelmingly lethal disease. Dr. Lippman is studying interactions between breast cancer cells and non-cancer cells of the tumor microenvironment that are involved in breast cancer metastasis. His findings may ultimately lead to the development of novel treatment strategies that will improve survival for breast cancer patients.
Current research: Dr. Lippman and his colleagues are focused on the RAGE signaling pathway—which is critical for breast cancer metastasis. In his current investigation, he is studying how RAGE interacts with a cancer-promoting cell type called cancer-associated fibroblast (CAFs) found around the tumor. CAFs are known to facilitate tumor progression and metastasis. The team has been developing a number of novel RAGE inhibitors and is now evaluating their efficacy. They have also been building models to study CAF interactions with breast cancer cells.
What he’s learned so far: Dr. Lippman has discovered that CAFs “educate” breast cancer cells to permanently exhibit more aggressive and metastatic behavior. He hypothesizes that RAGE signaling serves to connect CAF-mediated breast cancer metastasis, inflammation (such as is associated with diabetes and obesity), and therapeutic resistance.
What’s next: He and team will continue evaluating novel RAGE inhibitors in combination with other therapies, such as anti-estrogen treatment and chemotherapy, as well as determine the involvement of RAGE signaling in CAF-education of breast cancer metastasis.
Marc E. Lippman, MD, MACP FRCP is a professor of Oncology and co-directs the breast cancer program at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University. Prior to that he was the Kathleen and Stanley Glaser Professor of Medicine at the University of Miami Leonard School of Medicine, and was Chairman of the Department of Medicine from May 2007 to May 2012 and Deputy Director of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Previously Dr. Lippman was the John G. Searle Professor and Chair of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. From 1988 through 1999 he was Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and Chair, Department of Oncology, at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and served as Director of the Lombardi Cancer Center. Dr. Lippman served as Head of the Medical Breast Cancer Section, Medicine Branch, at the NIH. He completed a Fellowship in Endocrinology at Yale Medical School from 1973-1974. He was Clinical Associate at the NCI from 1970-1971 and Clinical Associate at the Laboratory of Biochemistry of the NCI. From 1970-1988 he served as an Officer and Medical Director of the United States Public Health Service. Dr. Lippman completed his residency on the Osler Medical Service, John Hopkins University Hospital from 1968-1970. He has received numerous awards including Clinical Investigator Award, American Federation for Clinical Research in 1985; Transatlantic Medal and Lecture, British Endocrine Societies, 1989; the Astwood Award, Endocrine Society, 1991; the Bernard Fisher Award, University of Pittsburgh in 1991; the AACR Rosenthal Award in April 1994, and the Brinker Award for Basic Science of the Komen Foundation in 1994.