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Myles Brown, MD

Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Director, Center for Functional Cancer Epigenetics
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, Massachusetts

Current Research

  • Seeking to identify new therapeutic options for ER-positive breast cancer.

  • Laboratory studies are conducted to determine whether drugs that mimic male hormones are an effective strategy for the treatment of some breast cancers.

  • These studies will help to identify new treatments and biomarkers that can predict which patients are likely to respond to anti-androgen therapies.

Anti-estrogen (endocrine) therapy is used to treat breast cancers that have the estrogen receptor, called estrogen receptor-positive. Some breast cancers, including some triple negative breast cancers, have the androgen receptor (AR). Drugs that target the AR may be a viable treatment option for these breast cancers. Dr. Brown is conducting studies to identify strategies to improve response to AR-directed therapy to benefit patients whose breast cancer depend on androgen.

Full Research Summary

Most breast cancers depend on estrogen for their growth, and therapies that block estrogen are among the most effective and least toxic therapies available. The effectiveness of these therapies, however, is limited to breast cancers that require estrogen for growth, so-called ER-positive breast cancer. 

Dr. Brown's group has found that in addition to female hormones, male hormones (androgens) acting through the androgen receptor, AR, also play important roles in breast cancer. Their recent work has demonstrated that androgens promote the growth of a subset of breast cancers that are not responsive to female hormones. This suggests that androgen blockers could be useful in the treatment of this type of breast cancer. 

His group's most recent work has focused on exploring whether drugs that mimic the activity of androgens could provide a new option for the treatment of the ER-positive breast cancers without troublesome side effects, such as the development of male attributes. Early clinical trials testing selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) are currently in progress for women with relapsed ER+/AR+ breast cancer. 

The team is using a revolutionary genome-editing approach to identify which genes regulate the response to targeted androgen therapies and uncover potential new therapeutic targets for the treatment of AR-positive breast cancers.

Biography

Dr. Myles Brown is Director of the Center for Functional Cancer Epigenetics at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He obtained his BS in Biology from Yale and his MD from Johns Hopkins. Following training in internal medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a fellowship in medical oncology at the Dana-Farber and postdoctoral research at MIT, he joined the staff of the Dana-Farber and the faculty of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Brown's research is focused on understanding the factors underlying the hormone dependence of breast and prostate cancers. He is recognized for three seminal discoveries including the role of p160 co-activators in steroid receptor action; the dynamic nature of co-regulator function; and the predominance of steroid receptors as enhancer- rather than promoter-binding factors.

BCRF Investigator Since

2012

Donor Recognition

The Pink Promises Award in Memory of Patricia L. Hansen

Area(s) of Focus