• Komen Research Unlocking New Clues to ER+ Breast Cancer Treatment Resistance

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    Susan G. Komen® today applauded groundbreaking work from Komen Scholar and Promise Grant recipient Dr. Matthew Ellis, MB, BChir., Ph.D., FRCP, whose work continues to expand our understanding of estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer and treatment resistance.

    In a new Cell Reports publication, Dr. Ellis, Komen-funded researcher Shyam Kavuri, Ph.D., and team show that specific mutations to the estrogen receptor protein can cause ER-+ breast cancers to become resistant to current therapies.  Resistant cells are more likely to spread throughout the body   and metastasize to other organs like the lungs. The team showed that cells that had the estrogen receptor alpha gene (ESR1) mutations were resistant to endocrine therapy and those mutations were responsible for driving metastasis. Encouragingly, CDK4/6 inhibitors (a class of drugs designed to interrupt the growth of cancer cells) may be able to overcome treatment resistance driven by ESR1 mutations.

    “Researchers like Dr. Ellis are leading the way in precision medicine, making sure each individual receives the best treatment for their breast cancer,” said Victoria Wolodzko, SVP, Mission at Komen. “Thanks to their work, patients with these gene mutations may be able to receive tailored treatments to overcome resistance.”

    Dr. Ellis is a renowned leader in cancer genomics, and one of only a handful of researchers worldwide to receive a Komen Promise Grant – an award that brings together multidisciplinary teams of clinical and laboratory investigators to conduct a set of related studies on a critical issue in breast cancer.

    “It’s unacceptable that 41,000 people in the U.S. still lose their lives to this disease each year. But I’m encouraged by researchers like Dr. Ellis, because every time we unlock one of the clues of this disease it means that women and men facing breast cancer have one more tool in their arsenal – one more reason to be hopeful,” said Paula Schneider, President and CEO of Komen. “This is vital work that will help save lives and move us closer to our bold goal of reducing the number of U.S. breast cancer deaths by half by 2026.”

    To date, Komen has invested more than $956 million in breakthrough breast cancer research – the largest nonprofit breast cancer research investment outside of the U.S. government. Read more about this groundbreaking research from Baylor College of Medicine.