Vice President for Basic Research
Professor and Chair
Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology
Director, Breast Cancer Basic Research Program
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
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). Anti-EGFR drugs have been approved for the treatment of some types of cancers. While they 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. Dr. Hung’s laboratory previously identified an enzyme, PRMT1, that modifies EGFR through a process called methylation, and they have shown that higher levels of PRMT1 enhance resistance of breast cancer cell to anti-EGFR therapy in laboratory experiments. In colon cancer patients receiving the anti-EGFR drug cetuximab (the drug is not approved for breast cancer, so the investigators looked at tumors from colon cancer patients), higher levels of methylated EGFR correlated with higher recurrence rate after treatment. Based on these findings, Dr. Hung and his colleagures are working to intiate a clinical trial that will select breast cancer patients with EGFR positive tumors where the EGFR gene does not have the methylation marker and treat these patients with cetuximab. They predict that these patients would have a better response rate to cetuximab and that this new biomarker may help to accelerate FDA approval of cetuximab for breast cancer.
Mien-Chie Hung, PhD is the Vice President for Basic Research, and Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and a basic scientist with a translational vision. Dr. Hung is a Program Leader for MDACC CCSG "Cell Biology and Signal Transduction" program. Since 2008, he has been Director of the Center for Biological Pathways at MDACC to coordinate biological pathway studies in cancers throughout the institution. Dr. Hung is internationally recognized for his work on signaling transduction pathways of tyrosine kinase growth factor receptors and targeted therapies for breast cancer. His group made a critical breakthrough in showing that the transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptor EGFR can translocate into the nucleus from the cell surface to stimulate cell proliferation and to induce resistance to anti-cancer therapy. This paradigm-shifting concept revolutionizes cell biology of the receptor tyrosine kinase and paves a new avenue for designing next generation of anti-cancer therapy. He has published nearly 400 peer-reviewed papers. Dr. Hung was inducted as an Academician of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan (2002) and a Member of the University of Texas Academy of Health Science Education (2006). In addition, he is a Member of the Scientific Advisory Council for Susan G. Komen and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2010), as well as recipient of the Presidential Award of Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America and The University of Texas MDACC LeMaistre Outstanding Achievement Award (2011).