Dr. Miller is involved in two BCRF studies focused on the prevention of metastasis, the spread of a tumor to different part of the body. Bone is the most common site of breast cancer metastasis, and is the cause of significant pain and morbidity. While existing therapies have dramatically reduced bone fractures, they don’t directly inhibit the growth of the cancer and can have unacceptable side effects in some patients. What if a drug could directly decrease the growth of breast cancer AND block the destruction of the bone? A common drug used for the treatment of hypertension, guanabenz, seems to do just that. In one of her BCRF studies, Dr. Miller and her team are exploring how guanabenz might impact breast cancer and bone. While her colleagues continue to investigate the effects of guanabenz in breast cancer cells in the laboratory, Dr. Miller will initiate a pilot trial to explore the impact of adding guanabenz to standard skeletal protective therapy in patients with active bone metastases. If successful, this repurposing of guanabenz as an anti-cancer drug could provide benefit to patients much faster than developing a new compound from scratch.
Dr. Miller is also part of a collaborative project with BCRF and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG-ACRIN)colleagues Robert Comis and Joseph Sparano. The research team is using banked patient biospecimens to conduct studies on the how tumor and patient-related factors affect late recurrences of breast cancer. Late relapses account for up to one-half of all breast cancer recurrences. In 2013, The Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups (CCG), a non-profit member organization of National Cancer Institute-sponsored Cooperative Groups, created the North American Breast Cancer Groups Biospecimen Bank for Determinants of Late Relapse in Operable Breast Cancer. It is a resource of archived primary and metastatic tumor tissue, blood and DNA collected from more than 15,000 women who participated in two large cooperative group cancer treatment trials, TAILORx and E5103. Drs. Comis, Sparano and Miller will use the biospecimen collection to identify any genetic differences that increase future risk of breast cancer relapse in previously treated patients, which could lead to the discovery of other new drugs and treatments. with the goal of identifying possible pharmacologic and/or lifestyle interventions to reduce risk. Importantly, the biorepository will be made available to researchers in the cooperative groups and across the scientific community, which will accelerate important discoveries that will improve breast cancer outcomes.
Kathy D. Miller received her MD in 1991 from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Miller completed internal medicine training at Hopkins, then returned to her native Midwest for fellowship training at Indiana University, serving as Chief Fellow in 1997. She returned to Indiana University in 1999, attaining the rank of Professor and Ballvé-Lantero Scholar in 2014.
Dr. Miller’s career has combined both laboratory and clinical research in breast cancer. She became chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Breast Core Committee in January 2014. In this role she works with academic scientists and community oncologists to develop trials that combine clinical and biologic endpoints yet remain feasible in non-academic settings. Dr. Miller honed her ability to coordinate multi-center trials as principal investigator for three previous ECOG trials. In addition she serves as principal investigator of the National Clinical Trials Network at Indiana University.