Dr. Toni Bedalov, investigator in the Clinical Research Division, is the recipient of a grant for nearly $130,000 from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.
The grant will fund studies to discover new therapies for breast cancer that target tumor-suppressor genes, genes whose normal function is to prevent cells from the unrestrained cell division that is the hallmark of cancer.
Many tumor-suppressor genes become inactivated, or silenced, in breast tumors. Because the proteins involved in silencing are similar in human cells and yeast cells, Bedalov has used yeast to identify several drugs that inhibit silencing in yeast and in breast-cancer cells grown in the laboratory. The targets of these drugs in breast tumors are unknown.
In the new study, Bedalov plans to determine whether tumor-suppressor genes are the targets of the anti-silencing drugs in breast-cancer cells and to test whether the drugs block silencing in mice with breast cancer. Based on the outcome of this work, the studies may lead to the development of new therapies for women with breast cancer.