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Sarat Chandarlapaty, MD, PhD
Assistant Attending Physician
Laboratory Head, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York
Member, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board
- Seeking to understand how normal breast cells transition into breast cancer cells.
- Laboratory studies are ongoing to develop strategies to prevent tumor resistance to targeted therapies.
- These studies will inform new strategies to overcome or prevent the development of resistance.
Despite recent advances, treatments are still limited for patients with metastatic breast cancer. Drs. Chandarlapaty and Scaltriti are working to understand why drugs targeted against the major “drivers” of metastatic breast cancers fail after initially working. They have uncovered several “escape” routes that metastatic cancers can utilize and are developing tools to better model these in the lab to generate treatment approaches that block these escape routes.
Full Research Summary
The development of targeted therapies that target specific drivers of tumor growth have shown great success and led to many lives saved. Unfortunately, resistance to targeted agents is common and is the main limitation for durable efficacy of the treatments in patients.
Understanding the basis for drug resistance will help scientists identify patients who will or will not respond to specific therapies. Moreover, the presence of specific alterations may reveal that tumors that are exquisitely sensitive to certain treatments and not to others, sparing some patients toxic and/or ineffective therapies.
The Memorial Sloan Kettering team of Drs. Chandarlapaty, Scaltriti, and Norton are working to solve the mysteries of drug resistance and improve response to targeted therapies. Their goal is to understand how and why some genetic alterations are advantageous for the growth of breast cancer cells. This knowledge will be important to identify the vulnerabilities of these cells and test drugs that specifically target those alterations.
In the coming year, the research team will focus on three main topics: 1) Why a specific gene alteration is advantageous for breast cancer; 2) New strategies to prevent resistance to anti-HER2 therapies; 3) More effective ways to model metastatic breast cancer in the laboratory.
Sarat Chandarlapaty, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Attending medical oncologist and a Laboratory Head in the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He earned his medical degree at the Wake Forest School of Medicine and his PhD at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Chandarlapaty completed his residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital, and his fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. A major focus of his work has been to characterize the significance of alterations present in metastatic tumors that have progressed following targeted therapies such as trastuzumab or aromatase inhibitors, as well as to develop models of resistant cancer for testing newer therapeutic strategies.