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March 23, 2017
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Two from Upstate awarded grants to further breast cancer research

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Two Upstate Medical University faculty members have each received $360,000 grants from New York state to further their research into breast cancer treatments.

Mira Krendel, PhD, associate professor of cell and developmental biology, and Juntao Luo, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology, received the grants through the state’s Peter T. Rowley Breast Cancer Scientific Research Program, which is financed primarily by individual and corporate income tax check-off contributions and donations. Those funds are matched by the state, essentially doubling funds available for breast cancer research and education awards.

Krendel will use the funding to further her work on finding out how the protein Myosin 1e, found in both mice and humans, contributes to tumor progression and metastasis in breast cancer.

Myosin 1e has been found in higher amounts in tumor samples from patients who have invasive breast cancer with poor prognosis. Mice that lack Myosin 1e do not develop invasive breast cancer as quickly as control groups. Thus, Myosin 1e is a key player in tumor invasion and metastasis.

“Over the course of the lifetime, on average one out of every eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer, a particularly dangerous type of breast cancer,” Krendel said. “The genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the development of invasive breast cancer are not fully understood, and there is an urgent need for treatments that prevent the spread of invasive breast cancer to other organs.”

The studies described in this proposal will also test how interfering with Myosin 1e activity may slow down tumor cell growth and metastasis.

Luo will use the grant to develop a targeted drug delivery system using nanocarriers for the anti-cancer chemotherapy drug Cabazitaxel.  Luo is researching breast cancer brain metastases (BCBMs) that occur in one-third of patients diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.

A difficulty in treating BCBMs is the blood-brain barrier, which separates the circulating blood from the brain extracellular fluid in the central nervous system, thus keeping medications from reaching tumors. Cabazitaxel has shown some promise in its ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier to accumulate in the central nervous system, but remains highly toxic.

Luo said his research would address the urgent need to develop novel systemic therapeutics that are able to overcome the blood-brain barrier in controlling intra-central nervous system tumors and to overcome drug resistance in controlling extra-central nervous system disease at the same time.

“Targeted drug delivery via encapsulation in nanoparticle can efficiently reduce side effects and increase efficacy of chemotherapy by targeted drug delivery in cancer treatment, including intracranial cancers, which has demonstrated in our research models” Luo said. “Our novel computer-aided approaches for structure-based nanocarrier design enable us to customize our unique telodendrimer nanocarrier for delivery of Cabazitaxel.”

Krendel and Luo were among 10 researchers across the state to receive the grant awards.

Caption: Juntao Luo, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology, and Mira Krendel, PhD, associate professor of cell and developmental biology, each received $360,000 grants from New York state to further their research into breast cancer treatments.

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