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Seema Khan, MD
Bluhm Family Research Professor of Breast Cancer
Professor of Surgery
Feinberg School of Medicine
Seeking to identify alternative approaches for breast cancer prevention in high-risk women.
Clinical and laboratory studies are planned to advance an anti-progesterone therapy as a potential chemopreventive in BRCA-breast cancers.
These studies are a step towards improving prevention options for high-risk women.
The progesterone pathway is important in the development and progression of breast cancer, but anti-progesterone medications have not been used because of safety concerns and unproven effectiveness.
With BCRF support, Dr. Khan has studied new (and safer) anti-progesterone agents in breast cancer prevention models, with encouraging results. She has completed an early phase trial of telapristone in women with Stage I-II breast cancer and is analyzing data to identify predictors of benefit from telapristone therapy.
The goal is to identify a predictive biomarker to select patients for a larger trial. The team is hopeful that this therapeutic approach can be used successfully for breast cancer prevention in individuals harboring mutations in the BRCA genes, and they are continuing to test anti-progesterone agents in laboratory models in preparation for a trial in this group of women.
Another area of interest and ongoing studies is the combined inhibition of progesterone and estrogen, which may allow lower doses of each drug, and will likely be more effective for prevention (and possibly treatment).
These studies represent another step towards improving prevention options for high-risk women by making effective drugs more tolerable and more effective.
Dr. Seema A. Khan is Professor of Surgery in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and the Bluhm Family Professor of Cancer Research. She is the Co-leader of the Women’s Cancer Research Program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her research focuses on applying biomarker knowledge to improve breast cancer risk stratification and develop preventive interventions for high risk women. Her research is funded by the NIH (NCI), The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Avon Foundation, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Current studies include an examination of the effects of progesterone antagonists in women with breast cancer, and a study of breast cancer risk biomarkers in benign breast biopsy samples. In addition, Dr. Khan’s group is working on the development of transdermal delivery of drugs to the breast. She chairs a Phase III trial for the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group which will investigate the role of local therapy for the primary tumor in women presenting with Stage IV breast cancer. Recently completed research includes a case/control study of hormone levels in nipple aspirate fluid.