Co-Director, Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Research Program
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Member, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a protein that controls many tumor-promoting processes. It is over-activated in multiple cancer types including breast cancer, particularly triple negative breast cancers (TNBC), which lack hormone receptors and the HER2 protein and have a worse outcome than other breast cancer subtypes. There are currently no targeted therapies for TNBC and, while many TNBC patients initially respond to conventional chemotherapy, the disease frequently recurs and spreads. Anti- EGFR drugs have been approved for the treatment of some types of cancers. While these drugs have not been effective against breast cancer in clinical trials, some patients do respond. Thus, it is extremely important to be able to identify which patients with EGFR-overexpressing breast cancer will respond to anti-EGFR drugs. Drs. Hortobagyi and Hung previously identified a modification of the EGFR gene, called DNA methylation that may explain why some breast cancers with high EGFR are resistant to targeted drugs. In the coming year, they will further explore the role of EGFR methylation in drug resistance in TNBC and study ways to reverse that resistance. In the process, they will work to identify biomarkers that can be used to predict which TNBC patients will respond to EGFR targeted therapy so that they may benefit from existing drugs.
Gabriel Hortobagyi, MD is Professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology and directs the Breast Cancer Research Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is Past President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and is one of the world's leading authorities on the management of breast cancer. Dr. Hortobagyi is recipient of numerous prestigious awards. He has over 1000 full-length publications in peer-reviewed journals; and over 140 book chapters to his credit. Dr. Hortobagyi served on various task forces and committees of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, served on the Board of Directors, and in 2005 was elected President. He served as President of the International Society of Senology, as a member of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union Against Cancer, the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Progress Review Group, and the Integration Panel of the Breast Cancer Research Program of the Department of Defense, chaired the Steering Committee of the Breast Health Global Initiative, the Health Advisory Board of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the NCI’s Operational Efficiency Working Group. Dr. Hortobagyi is currently the Chair of the Southwest Oncology Group Breast Committee and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.