Titles and Affiliations

Paul and Mary Haas Chair in Genetics
Chief, Section of Molecular Hematology and Therapy
Professor of Medicine, Department of Leukemia
Professor of Medicine, Department of Stem Cell Transplantation

Research area

Improving treatments for advanced triple-negative breast cancer.


While targeted therapies are available for several subtypes of breast cancer, there are few approved for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is aggressive and difficult to treat. In search of new therapeutic options for TNBC, Dr. Andreeff and his team identified a molecule called GD2 that appears to be specifically overproduced by breast cancer stem cells—a population that may drive tumor growth and therapeutic resistance. The team is exploring how GD2 functions in TNBC and the potential uses of GD2-targeting therapies.  

Progress Thus Far

Thus far, the team unveiled several interesting roles for GD2 in TNBC progression. They discovered that TNBC tumor growth can be inhibited by depriving tumors of GD2. In addition, they detected high levels of GD2 in approximately 60 percent of primary TNBC tumors and found it to be associated with poor overall survival. More recently, they uncovered that a tumor’s unique metabolic state may contribute to the increased production of GD2, and that GD2 blocks immune cells from attacking tumors. In laboratory studies, they found a potentially successful combination approach that targets GD2 while activating an anti-tumor immune response. 

What's next

In this upcoming year, Dr. Andreeff and his team will continue to explore potential therapeutic strategies for targeting GD2, using an FDA-approved antibody therapy that is already approved for the treatment of neuroblastoma. They will also work to enhance the activity of immune cells that are typically suppressed by GD2, focusing on a population of immune cells known as natural killer cells.  


Michael Andreeff received his MD and PhD from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and additional training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He has been a pioneer in flow cytometry since 1971, when he established the first flow cytometry laboratory at the University of Heidelberg and organized the first European flow cytometry conference. In 1977 he joined MSKCC, became head of the Leukemia Cell Biology and Hematopathology flow cytometry laboratory, and organized the first Clinical Cytometry Conference in 1986. Since 1990 he has been Professor of Medicine at MD Anderson Cancer Center where he holds the Paul and Mary Haas Chair in Genetics. He has published over 450 peer-reviewed papers, 5 books and 75 book chapters.

Dr. Andreeff’s group has worked extensively on drug resistance in hematopoietic malignancies and breast cancer and developed or co-developed several new therapeutic agents including the novel triterpenoids CDDO and CDDO-Me and Bcl-2- , XIAP- , surviving-, MEK- and HDM2- inhibitors. Over the last decade, his group has made major contributions to the understanding of micro-environment-mediated drug resistance and developed strategies to exploit the underlying mechanisms for the treatment of hematopoietic and epithelial malignancies. His group reported the role of bone marrow-derived multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) In tumor stroma formation and developed therapeutic strategies based on this discovery.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The AutoNation DRV PNK Award

Areas of Focus