Professor of Clinical Medicine
Medical Director, Oncology Services
Rebecca and John Moores Cancer Center
University of California
San Diego, California
Although initially responsive to hormone and chemo-therapy, most metastatic breast cancers will develop resistance to these therapies. Some breast cancers express ROR1 which is a surface protein ordinarily found on embryo cells and not on normal adult cells. Patients with breast cancers that express ROR1 typically have more aggressive disease. Over this past year, Drs. Parker and Kipps discovered that ROR1+ breast cancer cells have characteristics of cancer stem cells, or cells that can regenerate the tumor and may be responsible for metastasis and recurrence, even after apparently successful therapy. They have found that a targeted anti-ROR1 drug called cirmtuzumab had additive, if not synergistic, anti-tumor activity when given with paclitaxel chemotherapy in breast cancer cells with high ROR1 levels. Cirmtuzumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody targeting ROR1 and is currently in Phase I studies. In the coming year, Drs. Parker and Kipps will conduct an exploratory Phase I study of cirmtuzumab and paclitaxel in patients with advanced breast cancer.
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.