Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD, FACP
2012-2013 BCRF Project:
Professor and Past Chairman
Department of Breast Medical Oncology
Nellie B. Connally Chair in Breast Cancer
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Member, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board
Co-Investigator: Mien-Chie Hung, PhD
, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Breast tumor initiating cells (or BTICs) are highly aggressive cells that are thought to be responsible for resistance to therapies. Drs. Hortobagyi and Hung have expanded on their previous findings that EZH2 can enhance the BTIC population, by exploring its mechanism of action. They found that the enzyme CDK may play a role in the EZH2's enhancement of BTICs. In addition, they developed the expression system VISA-Claudin4-BikDD that can be used as gene therapy for breast cancer patients and are currently working towards a phase I clinical trial.
Since their previous studies on EZH2 and BikDD have attracted grants from other sources thanks to initial funding from BCRF, Drs. Hortobagyi and Hung now plan to focus on related research focusing on triple negative breast cancer/basal-like, which is a highly heterogeneous disease and shares many similar characteristics of tumor initiating cells (TICs, or cancer stem cells) particularly in its metastatic capability. In order to understand central molecular targets and signaling networks that are associated with this hard-to-treat breast cancer, this team plans to use bioinformatics in their identification of potential therapeutic targets. The first priority of their analysis will be to focus on cancer-related kinases to determine whether these kinases contribute to the cancer stem cell properties and metastatic abilities of triple negative breast cancer. Their preliminary results have given clues as to what may inhibit the cell growth and clonogenic ability of triple negative breast cancer cells, as well as what may play an integral part in triple negative breast cancer progression. If successful this new project will identify important molecular targets and signaling crosstalk, and Dr. Hortobagyi and Hung hope that the findings will be translated into clinical settings for treating triple negative breast cancer.
Mid-year Progress: Since fall, Drs. Hortobagyi and Hung have successfully identified potential critical molecular targets that may contribute to triple negative breast cancer progression. These targets may also predict outcomes of overall survival. Drs. Hortobagyi and Hung's findings provide a basis to further develop novel therapy and/or potential marker-guided clinical trials for triple negative patients.
Read more about Drs. Hortobagyi and Hung's work in Science Daily
Gabriel Hortobagyi, MD, FACP is Professor of Medicine and Past Chairman of the Department of Breast Medical Oncology and Nellie B. Connally Chair in Breast Cancer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He was also the Director of the Breast Cancer Research Program at the same institution. Dr. Hortobagyi has over 750 full-length publications in peer-reviewed journals; more than 350 invited papers; and over 140 book chapters to his credit.
Dr. Hortobagyi is recipient of the 1997 Brinker International Award, the 1999 Vermeille Medal of the City of Paris, France and was named Chevalier of l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur de France in 2001. Dr. Hortobagyi received the Glen Robbins Award in Breast Cancer Research from the New York Cancer Society and the Metropolitan Breast Cancer Group in April 2003, the Bristol-Myers Squibb 2003 Horizon Scientific Award; in 2004 Dr. Hortobagyi was the Jeffrey A. Gottlieb Memorial Award recipient, and was honored as the first recipient of the Umberto Veronesi Award for the Future Fight Against Breast Cancer. In 2005, Dr. Hortobagyi received the medal of the Mexican Society of Oncology, and the Mario Rabinovich Prize in Argentina; in 2006, he received the Luigi Castagnetta Prize in Italy, and the Pathfinder Award of the American Society of Breast Disease. In 2007, he received the Beacon Award from Cancer Care in New York, the Cruz Civica Jorge Bejarano, in Colombia, and the keys to the City of Cartagena (Colombia). In 2007, Dr. Hortobagyi was the recipient of the Gold Medal for Contributions to Translational Research in Oncology, at the First International Conference "Translational Research in Oncology" in Forli, Italy, and in 2009, he was given the ASCO Statesman Award, the Charles A. LeMaistre Outstanding Achievement Award in Cancer and the John Mendelsohn Lifetime Scientific Achievement Award. He has also received three honorary doctorates: from the Universitá degli Studi di Modena E Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy; from the La Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, México; and from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Dr. Hortobagyi's professional society activities include membership in the American Society of Clinical Oncology, where he has served on various task forces, chaired committees, served on the Board of Directors, and in 2005 was elected President for the term 2006-2007. He chairs the Data and Safety Monitoring Committee of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project; and served as President of the International Society of Senology. He served as a member of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union Against Cancer, the National Cancer Institute's Breast Cancer Progress Review Group, co-chaired the Operational Efficiency Working Group, and chaired the Steering Committee of the Breast Health Global Initiative and the Health Advisory Board of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and was a member of the Integration Panel of the Breast Cancer Research Program of the Department of Defense. Dr. Hortobagyi is on the Scientific Advisory Board of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and currently chairs SWOG's Breast Committee.