Congratulations to College of Pharmacy Associate Professor Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., who has been awarded a cancer research grant from the Mary Kay Ash Foundation. The award is part of $1 million in grants provided to ten researchers from the country’s top cancer research institutes and universities who are conducting ground-breaking research in cancers that primarily affect women. The grants fund innovative, translational cancer research efforts to help with better detection, prognosis and treatment.
Sahin’s research centers around the use of Trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1), the first and one of the most successful antibody-drug conjugates approved for the treatment of refractory HER2-positive breast cancer. Unfortunately, drug resistance is a major reason many cancer patients diagnosed at primary tumor stage relapse under treatment over time and may develop distant metastasis, which in turn accounts for more than 90% of cancer-related deaths. HER2-positive breast cancer comprises 20% of all breast cancers and is one of the most aggressive sub-types of cancer. Although treatment with T-DM1 significantly improves outcomes in HER2-positive breast cancer, a major population of patients is refractory to T-DM1 and acquired resistance to T-DM1 is almost inevitable. Therefore, T-DM1 resistance is an unmet clinical need.
... this grant will provide a unique opportunity for my team at the UofSC College of Pharmacy to tackle the challenging problem of drug resistance in cancer therapy.
Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D. Associate Professor
Sahin’s team will test target a protein, which has been identified to be a driver of T-DM1 resistance, to improve the efficacy of T-DM1. Availability of this potent and safe inhibitor against this target opens a new avenue for combination therapies employing target inhibition together with T-DM1 and perhaps other ADCs in future to improve outcomes in highly aggressive breast and other cancers.
“Receipt of this grant will provide a unique opportunity for my team at the UofSC College of Pharmacy to tackle the challenging problem of drug resistance in cancer therapy,” says Sahin. “With the support of this grant, we will continue pursuing the research on identifying novel and safe combination therapies with an ever-lasting mission to improve the lives of patients with aggressive cancers. I am very happy to be one of a few breast cancer researchers who got this grant in the U.S.”
“The Mary Kay Ash Foundation continues its steadfast mission to support cancer researchers who are seeking cures for cancers affecting women and provide life-saving resources to domestic violence shelters across the country,” said Ryan Rogers, vice president of the Mary Kay Ash Foundation Board of Directors and grandson of company founder Mary Kay Ash. “These grants enable some of the brightest minds to continue their research efforts, bringing hope to women who are facing a cancer diagnosis. By continuing support for these scientists and organizations, we know we are continuing our mission to better the lives of women everywhere.”