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  • Ozgur Sahin research

UofSC Pharmacy Researcher Targets Chemotherapy-Resistant Protein

Posted on: June 16, 2020

University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy researchers are continuing to make strides in their fight against breast cancer. Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., and associate professor in Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences, along with his team recently published their findings in Nature Communications on their research titled "Targeting lysyl oxidase (LOX) overcomes chemotherapy resistance in triple negative breast cancer.”

This project is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, along with support from the American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grants and Institutional Research Grants.

American Cancer Society Executive Director of Western North Carolina and South Carolina, Megan Nelson says, “Cancer hasn’t stopped, and neither have we. In these uncertain times, the American Cancer Society remains committed to funding as many grants as possible for the country’s brightest researchers with the most promising research proposals to help find cures. We’re so proud to help fund Dr. Sahin’s important work at the UofSC College of Pharmacy.”

The study focuses on the identification of LOX protein as a major chemotherapy resistance modulator in triple breast cancer. The study determined that by inhibiting the LOX protein, chemotherapy may be more effective in targeting triple negative breast cancer cells.

TNBC patients heavily rely on chemotherapy for treatment compared to other breast cancer subtypes, but many patients develop resistance to chemotherapy. In preclinical studies LOX has been shown to be an important prognostic factor for chemotherapy-treated patients.

As almost all breast cancer patients die of metastasis and recurrence, targeting LOX could be a unique approach to inhibit both ...

Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D.  Associate Professor

“By targeting LOX, we can potentiate chemo response in the first-line setting or overcome chemoresistance in later stages. LOX could be a very promising target in TNBC patients to increase survival rates in the future.”

It has been established that LOX can induce metastasis or spread of cancer to other parts of the body, as well as lead to chemoresistance in TNBC.  “As almost all breast cancer patients die of metastasis and recurrence, targeting LOX could be a unique approach to inhibit both processes and may lead to reduction in mortality,” Sahin says.

Although the study shows that LOX protein is important for overcoming chemotherapy resistance, currently there is no LOX inhibitor tested in clinical trials. “We are currently working on developing these inhibitors further to get more "drug-like" molecules,” Sahin says. “We hope that in the near future we will have drug candidates that could be tested in clinical trials.”

Sahin credits the combined effort of an interdisciplinary team, including cancer biology, genomics, bioinformatics, pathology and medical oncology with the findings from the study.

“I believe that all these disciplines should work together without boundaries to achieve one aim,” he says. “which is ending cancer-related deaths. That is what we are trying to do at UofSC.”

Read the article in its entirety here.

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