What is the best way to starve cancer cells? What role does obesity play in metastatic breast cancer and how does it affect the tumour microenvironment? Might combining a chemotherapeutic agent with a drug now used to treat diabetes be part of an effective therapy for metastatic breast cancer?
With $6-million in new funding for six years, a research team based in Montreal and Ottawa will try to answer these challenging questions to find new ways to reduce metastatic and treatment-resistant disease in women with breast cancer.
Breast cancer killed an estimated 4,900 women in Canada in 2017. Of these deaths, 90 per cent are attributed to metastasis and treatment resistance, two things that could be prevented through the interruption of specific metabolic processes that drive cancer cell growth and proliferation.
“Over the last few years, funding from the TFRI and the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation has been instrumental in allowing us to identify a number of key metabolic pathways that cancer cells use to get energy and learn how these pathways change as cancers spread and become resistant to treatment,” says Dr. Julie St-Pierre, project co-leader for the newly funded New Frontiers Program Project Grant in Targeting Metabolic Vulnerabilities in Cancer. “Now that we have a decent understanding of how certain cancer cells ‘eat’, we can try to find new ways to interrupt these metabolic processes and, essentially, starve the tumours to death.”
Project co-leader Dr. Peter Siegel is at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre at McGill University and Dr. Julie St-Pierre is at the University of Ottawa.
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