Funded Research

  • The impact of alpha catenin loss on DNA repair defects in triple negative breast cancer
    $500.000 Barry Rosenbloom, MD Senior Investigator Grant

    Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive and has a high death rate, especially in black women. We have found a gene marker that may make these tumors escape chemotherapy. Our research also shows that when this marker is not present, the tumor cells respond to a very specific type of cancer therapy. Also, there might be more immune cells that come into the tumor. Therefore, we wish to expand our research help better understand the role of this marker in breast cancer growth to improve treatment of this hard to treat form of cancer.

    John Carpten, PhD
    City of Hope
  • Targeting Monoamine Oxidase A to Expand Cancer Immune Checkpoint Blockade Therapy
    $500,000 Magnolia Council Senior Investigator Grant

    Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapies have revolutionized the treatment of many cancers; however, the existing ICB therapies can only benefit a small fraction of cancer patients, demanding an expansion of ICB therapies. Monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) is an enzyme best known for its function in the brain; small molecule MAO inhibitors (MOIs) have been developed and are clinically used for treating depression. This proposal aims to study MAO-A regulation of antitumor immunity and evaluate MAO-A blockade for cancer immunotherapy. The project has the potential to identify MAO-A as a new immune checkpoint and support repurposing MAOI antidepressants for cancer immunotherapy.

    Lili Yang, PhD
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Performance of hypermethylated circulating tumor DNA’s in colorectal cancer
    $100,000 Rosen Cherney Tower Golf Tournament Research Grant

    Measuring DNA produced by colorectal cancer (CRC) in blood (ctDNA) is a new method to detect return (recurrence) of CRC. We developed an in-house, blood-based ctDNA test that is less costly and easier to apply in practice. We will compare our ctDNA test’s performance to a commercial ctDNA test for detecting recurrence in patients who no longer have CRC and tumor growth or spread in patients with existing CRC. We will also analyze our test’s potential to predict recurrence in localized rectal cancer, which can be helpful to identify candidates who can be spared from unnecessary surgery (ostomy bags).

    Jun Gong, MD
    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  • Sensitizing the tumor immune microenvironment of breast cancer
    $100,000 Howard and Reva Colover Trust Career Development Research Grant

    Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women. Immunotherapies harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer, holding great promise to prevent recurrence and prolong survival. Immunotherapies have been less effective in patient’s with breast cancer in part, due to the recruitment of suppressive cells that prevent an anti-tumor effect. We will investigate strategies to decrease suppressive signals within the tumor, allowing anti-tumor signals to successfully eliminate tumor growth. We will also determine differences in suppressive signals between early versus metastatic breast cancers to improve response to immunotherapy for patients with all stages of disease.

    Evanthia Roussos Torres, MD, PhD
    University of Southern California
  • Harnessing the Hippo signaling pathway to counteract chemoresistance
    $100,000 Cancer Free Generation Career Development Research Grant

    Cisplatin-based chemotherapy has been widely used for treating a variety of solid tumors including breast, lung and ovarian cancers. Although initial therapeutic success is achieved, a number of tumors are found to be intrinsically resistant or gradually develop resistance to cisplatin treatment, which greatly limits its therapeutic potential. Notably, cisplatin belongs to the platinum compound family, which are known as the only heavy metal containing drugs used for chemotherapy. Our proposed research will focus on a growth-related signaling pathway, named the Hippo pathway in regulating heavy metal-induced stress response, which results in a unique mechanism accounting for the cisplatin-based chemo-resistance.

    Wenqi Wang, PhD
    University of California, Irvine

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