Francisco J. Esteva, MD, PhD
Professor, Departments of Breast Medical Oncology and Molecular & Cellular Oncology
2012-2013 BCRF Project:
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Cancer cells can accumulate mutations and develop alternative growth pathways that allow them to survive in the presence of HER2-targeted therapy (e.g. trastuzumab [Herceptin®], or lapatinib [Tykerb®]). Breast cancer stem cells are thought to be responsible for tumor regrowth, even after patients achieve significant objective responses in the metastatic setting. CD44 is a protein expressed in high quantity by breast cancer stem cells. Dr. Esteva's hypothesis is that CD44 plays a role in the development of resistance to HER2-directed therapy. In 2012-2013, Dr. Esteva will continue his work on CD44 and will assess whether circulating levels of CD44 correlate with prognosis in women with HER2 positive breast cancer.
Mid-year Progress: Dr. Esteva's team continues to study the role of CD44 in the development of resistance to trastuzumab therapy in HER2-positive breast cancer. They are also aiming to develop novel approaches to overcome resistance through CD44 blockade. They have treated breast cancer cell lines in the laboratory with the A6 peptide to maximize its effects on tumor migration. They have also began to analyze CD44-related gene profiles in trastuzumab sensitive and trastuzumab-resistant cell lines.
Dr. Esteva received his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Zaragoza School of Medicine in Spain. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Cooper Hospital/University Medical Center (Camden, NJ). He continued on to Georgetown University Medical Center (Washington, DC) for a clinical fellowship in medical oncology at the Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Center. Dr. Esteva is board certified in medical oncology, and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. In 2010 Dr. Esteva was inducted as a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation.
Dr. Esteva has served on the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)'s Scientific Program Committee and Education Committee; and as faculty for the ASCO annual meeting for several years. He is a member of the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) Breast Cancer Committee. He was awarded a Career Development Award from the NCI in 1999. He is a co-author in over 100 publications including peer-reviewed research articles, invited reviews and book chapters.