Cancer Research at the Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

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Breast Cancer

Dr. Fulton’s laboratory is interested in identifying the mechanisms by which breast cancers grow and metastasize and in developing therapeutic strategies against breast cancer with the goal to understand the role of inflammation in promoting tumor progression. Her research has shown that overexpression of cyclooxygenase-2 is an indicator of aggressive disease and preclinical studies indicate that cyclooxygenase inhibitors limit tumor growth and spread. Recent research has shown that breast cancer stem-like cells with heightened tumorigenic potential and a treatment resistant phenotype have elevated levels of the prostaglandin E receptor EP4 and are more sensitive to inhibition by EP4 antagonists than the non-stem cell population. These findings have led to the design of a clinical trial with several clinical collaborators to examine efficacy of an EP4 antagonist in advanced malignancy. The lab has also discovered that chemokine receptor CXCR3 isoforms differentially promote metastasis and cancer stem-like cells. They have identified novel allosteric CXCR3 modulators with high efficacy in preclinical models. Working with Dr. Namita Kundu, Dr. Fulton’s lab has identified a novel and potent inhibitor of metastasis isolated from the Taro plant. Current studies in collaboration with Dr. David Weber are designed to identify the active moiety and to discern the mechanism of action.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Dr. Maria Baer’s laboratory works on new treatments for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the common form of acute leukemia in adults. Recent work has focused on AML with a particular mutation, FLT3-ITD. FLT3-ITD is present in AML cells of a third of patients and makes AML more difficult to cure with chemotherapy and with stem cell transplantation. Dr. Baer’s laboratory has focused on Pim-1 kinase, an important signaling molecule in AML cells with FLT3-ITD. Her laboratory has shown that inhibitors of Pim kinase are highly effective in increasing the toxic effects of inhibitors of FLT3 and of chemotherapy drugs in AML cells with FLT3-ITD. Dr. Baer’s group is working on translating these findings into clinical trials for patients with AML with FLT3-ITD.

Lymphoid Malignancies

The Gartenhaus lab has established a record of NIH & VA funded and productive research projects examining signaling and post-transcriptional/translational regulation, perturbed DNA Damage Response, and microRNA function in lymphoid malignancies. We have particular expertise employing both translational profiling and RIP-seq using NGS in order to better define the functional cellular pathways that contribute to the malignant phenotype, and how they can be exploited for targeted therapy.


To learn more about the Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, visit www.umgccc.org.