Professor of Clinical Medicine
Medical Director, Oncology Services
Rebecca and John Moores Cancer Center
University of California, San Diego
San Diego, California
Some breast cancers have a protein called ROR1 that has been shown to be important during embryonic development prior to birth. These breast cancers often have characteristics of aggressive disease. ROR1 is not found in normal adult tissue, so drugs that target this protein should not harm normal, healthy cells. Drs. Parker and Kipps have measured ROR1 levels in tumors from breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy before surgery, and have analyzed public databases looking for gene mutations or other alteration associated with ROR1 levels in breast cancer. These studies suggest that ROR1 may play a role in a well-known tumor growth pathway controlled by a protein called EGFR. In laboratory studies, the researchers have shown that an anti-ROR1 antibody called cirmtuzumab significantly enhanced the effect of the anti-cancer drug paclitaxel, and they are currently conducting an exploratory Phase 1 trial in metastatic breast cancer patients to test the safety and efficacy of the combination. The results from this initial trial will be used to design future therapeutic clinical trials with the cirmtuzumab/ paclitaxel drug combination.
Dr. Barbara Parker is involved in the studies of novel personalized therapies for the treatment of breast cancer, the impact of diet and lifestyle on breast cancer outcomes, and the quality of life of breast cancer survivors. She is the principal investigator for the Cancer and Leukemia Group B/Alliance clinical trials at UCSD. Dr. Parker is the Medical Director for the Women's Healthy Eating and Living Study of over 3,000 breast cancer survivors. She is also the principal investigator for ATHENA Breast Health Network at UCSD where she leads efforts in establishing personalized screening and risk assessment for women at the time of mammography. She is a co-investigator on the ISPY2 clinical trial in high risk early stage breast cancer and serves on the ISPY2 New Agent Selection Committee.