NCI grant funds study of anti-cancer drugs to treat aggressive breast cancer

A University of Florida Health Cancer Center researcher has received a two-year $400,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute to evaluate a new class of anti-cancer drugs to treat aggressive types of breast cancer.

Brian Law, Ph.D.

Brian Law, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of pharmacology and therapeutics in the UF College of Medicine, aims to characterize the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of disulfide bond disrupting agents (DDAs). In animal models, these chemical agents have been shown to induce regression of primary tumors and metastatic lesions of drug-resistant patient-derived tumors. 

In the new project, Law aims to optimize the pharmacological properties of DDAs and dosing to guide future investigational new drug studies. The project will also validate biomarkers to predict tumor sensitivity to DDAs and monitor target engagement, as well as evaluate any adverse effects of DDAs on normal tissues or animal health.

The long-term goal is to develop a therapy to target treatment-refractory breast cancers, such as triple-negative breast cancer. Triple-negative breast cancer is a subtype of breast cancer in which the cancer cells lack the three receptors commonly targeted by breast cancer therapeutics. This subtype accounts for only about 20% of all breast cancer cases but has the highest mortality rate.

Law, a member of the UF Health Cancer Center’s Cancer Therapeutics & Host Response research program, is collaborating on the new project with Ronald Castellano, Ph.D., a professor in the department of chemistry; Coy Heldermon, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the division of hematology and oncology in the department of medicine; and Mary Law, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and therapeutics.

Earlier this year, Law also received two grants from the Florida Department of Health for studies involving DDAs to treat breast cancer.

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