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Robert J. Schneider, PhD
Associate Dean, Office of Therapeutic Alliances
Associate Director, NYU Cancer Institute
Co-Director, Breast Cancer and Translational Cancer Research
Albert B. Sabin Professor of Molecular Pathogenesis
NYU School of Medicine
New York, New York
Goal: To develop new therapies for metastatic breast cancer (MBC).
Impact: Dr. Schneider and his colleagues have identified unique mechanisms of breast cancer cell protein synthesis that are essential for breast cancer progression, metastasis, and resistance to hormone therapies. Based on these findings, they have developed several experimental oncology drugs that selectively inhibit these mechanisms, and which are currently being assessed in novel treatment protocols.
What’s next: Having discovered a pathway that is involved in the spread of breast cancer, he and his team now plan to develop drugs capable of blocking it.
Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is cancer that has spread from the breast to other organs in the body. While it is treatable, MBC cannot be cured, and breast cancer metastasis is responsible for most deaths due to breast cancer. Thus, new therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. Dr. Schneider’s research has revealed a mechanism that allows breast cancer cells to spread and could be targeted for the treatment of MBC
Full Research Summary
Research area: Understanding the underlying biology driving breast cancer metastasis and identifying molecular targets for the development of effective therapies to reduce breast cancer deaths.
Impact: Metastasis, the spread of cancer from the original site to other parts of the body, is a complex, multi-step process and the leading cause of breast cancer deaths. Dr. Schneider was the first to recognize that breast cancer cells must utilize protein synthesis to grow and metastasize. He and his colleagues have identified key pathways in this process that promote cancer progression, metastasis, and resistance to hormone therapies, which are used to treat the most common types of breast cancer. Based on these findings, they have developed several experimental drugs that selectively inhibit these pathways.
Current research: His team will determine potential targets for disrupting a protein synthesizing pathway that mediates metastasis.
What he’s learned so far: In a recently published article in the journal Nature, Dr. Schneider reported the discovery of a factor called DAP5 which is one part of a complex of factors involved in the synthesis of proteins used in tissue invasion, cell detachment and migration—key processes required for metastasis. Moreover, DAP5-mediated metastasis utilizes a mechanism of protein synthesis not previously described. Dr. Schneider and his team have further identified an essential protein component of the DAP5 complex, called eIF3d, which interacts with DAP5 to mediate these processes. In the last year, Dr. Schneider and his colleagues have structurally identified the site on DAP5 where eIF3d binds. This structural information unveils several potential targets for small molecule inhibitors to block DAP5-eIF3d interaction and prevent metastasis. Dr. Schneider has initiated studies to test the effect of DAP5 inhibition on breast cancer metastasis using laboratory models of different stages of breast cancer from development to metastatic spread.
What’s next: Using a technique called dynamic structural prediction, his team will determine the precise site on DAP5 that binds eIF3d and then develop small molecule drugs to block the DAP5--eIF3d interaction. They anticipate at least 100 compounds will be developed for testing to determine which compounds are most effective at disrupting DAP5-eIF3d interaction and inhibiting subsequent metastasis
Dr. Robert Schneider is the Albert Sabin Professor of Molecular Pathogenesis at NYU School of Medicine, an Associate Director of the NYU Cancer Institute, Breast Cancer Program Co-Director and Associate Dean for the Office of Therapeutics and Industry Alliances. He has published more than 140 peer reviewed papers. His research is directed to the development, progression and metastasis of breast cancer and the interplay of the inflammatory response, and the development of new therapeutics for metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Schneider has received numerous awards and prizes in recognition of his research, including the 2010 Judah Folkman Memorial lecture; the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award & Commencement address, University of Delaware and the 2012 Susan E. Donelan Hope for the Future Award for breast cancer research, Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Schneider is a founding scientist of five biotechnology companies focused on translating oncology research to the clinic.