The role of ADAMs in mediating resistance to HER-targeted therapies

Key Information

Cancer type: 
Research Institution: 
Grant Amount: 
Start date: 
December 1, 2011
End date: 
November 30, 2014

Scientific Project Abstract

This year, about 2,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Ireland. Over the last 10 years, a new 'targeted' therapy called Herceptin has been used successfully to treat women with HER-2 positive breast cancer. HER2 is important for the growth of breast cancer cells. However, only 20-25% of breast cancers use HER2 to drive their growth. Those that do can be treated with Herceptin, but many will eventually progress and become resistant to the treatment. This poses important questions for us. First, how do we choose women who will become resistant to Herceptin and second, can we identify new drug combinations to overcome or reverse this resistance? Cancers that become resistant to Herceptin may have activated other growth pathways to help them to continue to survive. We will investigate 2 of these pathways to see how they are involved in resistance. If successful, blocking these pathways might provide an alternative route for treating these women.

For the non-scientist

One-line description: 
Understanding how drug resistance develops in breast cancer patients, and finding ways of reversing it
What this project involves: 

Breast cancer patients who overexpress a protein called HER2 are treated with a targeted therapy called Herceptin. While Herceptin treatment resulted in a remarkable improvement in patient outcome for HER2 positive patients, resistance to Herceptin treatment often occurs in a significant proportion of patients.This study aims to understand this mechanism of Herceptin resistance.The project also aims to identify new drug combinations which may be used to overcome or reverse this resistance to Herceptin.