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
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Research area

Improving treatments for advanced triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

Impact

While targeted therapies are available for several subtypes of breast cancer, there are few approved for TNBC, which is aggressive and difficult to treat. Chemotherapy is standard-of-care, but many patients become resistant to this treatment. Dr. Andreeff is investigating metabolic pathways that are activated in breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs), which are believed to drive aggressive tumor behavior and are resistant to chemotherapy. His findings could lead to the development of new targeted therapies for TNBC.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Andreeff discovered that TNBC BCSCs can be inhibited by depriving cells of a key molecule, GD2, that is needed for cancer progression. They found high levels of GD2 in primary TNBC tumors and that it is associated with disease progression and resistance to chemotherapy. Anti-GD2 therapy inhibited tumor growth by activating natural killer immune cells to attack TNBC.

What's next

In this upcoming year, Dr. Andreeff and his team are going to test a vaccine that was developed based on GD2 and its precursor molecule GD3. This vaccine was already successfully tested in clinical trials in pediatric patients with neuroblastoma. They will investigate the effectiveness of this vaccine in preventing breast cancer initiation and metastasis. Dr. Andreeff also plans to target breast cancer cells with high levels of GD2 using an anti-GD2-GD3 therapy that has been shown to enhance immune cell-mediated killing of tumor cells. 
 

Biography

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

2012

Donor Recognition

The Autonation DRV PNK Award

Areas of Focus