Assistant Professor, Medicine (Oncology)
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, New York
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) comprises approximately 15-20 percent of all breast cancers. These aggressive tumors are treated with a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs. Often in drug development, promising compounds are selected for development based on their ability to suppress cancer cell division. Suppression of cell division can result in tumor cell senescence (dormancy), that while initially suppressing tumor growth can result in tumor recurrence when dormant cells are “revived” and begin to grow again. As an alternative to this approach, Drs. Horwitz and McDaid have developed a novel drug-development program to screen for compounds with potent anti-cancer activity in TNBC, coupled with low risk for the induction of tumor cell senescence. To date, they have tested many novel anti-cancer drugs and identified four potential candidates. The researchers continue studies to optimize their anti-cancer efficacy in laboratory models of aggressive disease. Complementing this work, they are also studying how proteins secreted from cancer cells interact with immune cells to promote a chemoresistant tumor microenvironment. They have identified a component of the cytoskeleton (the cellullar scaffolding) that facilitates transport of these proteins and have shown that this process is hyperactive in cancer cells, and may be therapuetically targetable. They are continuing their studies in this area to determine the underlying mechanism of this observation.
Dr. Hayley McDaid received her PhD from the Queens University of Belfast, where she characterized the role of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase A signaling pathway in breast and ovarian cancer. These studies pioneered her present-day interest in targeted therapies, pharmacogenomics and rationally designed drug combinations.
Dr. McDaid's broad research theme in breast cancer is focused on investigating molecular mechanisms of action and resistance to novel therapeutics. She is interested in defining the ‘circuitry’ of breast cancer in the different molecular subtypes of triple negative tumors; and mechanisms by which tumors counteract the effects of therapy. As part of this focus, Dr. McDaid has been studying chemotherapy-mediated senescence, a type of growth arrest that is increasingly perceived as a deleterious outcome of treatment. Together with colleagues, she is interested in chemical-biological approaches to minimize the risk of developing senescence during treatment.