Penn’s Angela DeMichele, MD, MSCE, Part of Team Awarded Stand Up 2 Cancer Grant

$3 million award will support combination therapy trial for triple-negative breast cancer


Penn’s Angela DeMichele, MD, MSCE Part of Team Awarded Stand Up 2 Cancer Grant

$3 million award will support combination therapy trial for triple-negative breast cancer

Newswise — PHILADELPHIA – A new $3 million grant to support a clinical trial evaluating a combination therapy to prevent triple-negative breast cancer from recurring will be led in the clinic by Angela DeMichele, MD, MSCE, the Alan and Jill Miller Professor in Breast Cancer Excellence in the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) at the University of Pennsylvania and co-director of the ACC’s 2-PREVENT Translational Center of Excellence. The grant was awarded by Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) in partnership with Genentech, and will be administered by the organization’s scientific partner, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a tumor type in which cancer cells lack hormone epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2), estrogen receptors (ER), and progesterone receptors (PR). Because the cancer cells test negative for all three receptors, hormone therapies and drugs that target the receptors are not effective treatments. TNBC is aggressive and can spread after treatment with radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery.

“Currently, women with triple-negative breast cancer have a high risk of recurrent, metastatic disease after they are initially treated,” said DeMichele, who also serves as the co-Leader of the ACC’s Breast Cancer Research Program and director of the ACC’s Breast Cancer Clinical Trials Unit. “This trial will utilize a blood test for circulating tumor DNA to identify women at risk. Our goal is to harness the immune system to eliminate the cancer once and for all.”

DeMichele will work with team leader Elizabeth A. Mittendorf, MD, PhD, director of the breast immuno-oncology program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in Boston, on this project. The team plans to use a blood test called liquid biopsy to detect the spread of the disease before it can gain a foothold in distant organs. When cancer cells are detected, patients would receive a combination of drugs. One drug is ipatasertib, which is an investigational therapy that blocks activity in the PI3K/AKT cellular signaling pathway, which can prevent cancer cells from multiplying and spreading. The second drug is atezolizumab, which is a PD-L1 inhibitor that can free the immune system to attack cancer cells.

The 2-PREVENT Translational Center of Excellence at the ACC, which DeMichele co-directs with Lewis Chodosh, MD, PhD, the Perelman Professor in Cancer Biology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is a multidisciplinary research program focused on preventing recurrent breast cancer through improved understanding of breast cancer metastatic behavior, development of new technologies to find minimal residual disease and translation to novel clinical trials that target the ways in which cancer cells survive initial treatment with the goal of reducing mortality from breast cancer.

The grant is supported by SU2C Catalyst Founding Collaborator, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, and is the latest fruit of SU2C’s collaboration with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry under the SU2C Catalyst® initiative. SU2C Catalyst is a collaborative program that leverages the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic, and devices industries to accelerate the development of new treatments, and combination therapies, to patients as rapidly as possible through early-phase clinical trials or translational research.

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Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $7.8 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $425 million awarded in the 2018 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report—Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Home Care and Hospice Services, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 40,000 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2018, Penn Medicine provided more than $525 million to benefit our community.

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