Titles and Affiliations

Member, Department of Cell Biology and Genetics
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York

Research area

Discovering new therapeutic targets to treat aggressive breast cancers.

Impact

Metastatic breast cancer (MBC), which is breast cancer that has spread to other sites in the body, is incurable and is the leading cause of breast cancer deaths. New treatment strategies are urgently needed that can prevent metastasis from occurring. Dr. Benezra’s work is focused on an agent called AGX51 that has been shown to block tumor growth and metastasis in laboratory studies. His work could inform the development of a new class of well-tolerated, anti-metastatic drugs.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Benezra has made significant progress identifying how AGX51 works against a key target that is involved in the development and progression of breast cancer. He has also begun to zero-in on how the loss of this target causes the death of breast cancer cells. Finally, Dr. Benezra and his team have made progress in formulating this new drug for oral delivery and shown its efficacy in breast cancer models. 

What's next

In the upcoming year, Dr. Benezra will further explore how AGX51 works to stop breast cancer progression on a molecular level. He and his team will also determine how a class of proteins called inhibitor of DNA-binding proteins (ID proteins), which are responsible for primary and metastatic breast cancer development and progression, contribute to therapeutic resistance. Dr. Benezra is testing targeted therapies for ID proteins in combination with chemotherapy.

Biography

Robert Benezra, PhD, is a Member at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer in the Department of Cell Biology and a Professor of Biology at Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York City. As a postdoctoral fellow he identified the Id proteins as dominant negative regulators of the helix-loop-helix protein family and has since gone on to identify these proteins as key regulators of tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis. In addition, while at Sloan Kettering, Benezra and his colleagues identified the first human mitotic checkpoint gene, hsMad2, and demonstrated that its deregulation leads to chromosome instability, tumor progression and drug resistance. His program continues to focus on the molecular basis of tumor angiogenesis, tumor instability and metastasis. His current project supported by BCRF is to explore the therapeutic potential of a novel agent targeting the Id proteins for the treatment of aggressive triple negative breast cancers.

BCRF Investigator Since

2001

Donor Recognition

The Play for P.I.N.K. Award in Memory of Doris L. Mortman

Areas of Focus