October 2012

Health disparities in breast cancer

Benchside to Bedside: Identifying Novel Biomarkers to Better Manage Breast Disease

Back to the Basics:
the Biology of Breast Cancer
Breast Cancers that Elude Successful Treatments: Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Genomics: Successes & Challenges in Identifying Novel Targets in Breast Cancer

For more details, go to the ASBMB Meeting 2013 program page and click to expland “Triple Negative Breast Cancer” (at the bottom).

At least five subtypes of breast cancer have been identified on the basis of their patterns of biomarker expression. Triple-negative breast cancer, or TNBC, is defined as breast epithelial cancer cells that lack the HER-2/neu receptor, the estrogen receptor and the progesterone receptor. TNBC patients have a high mortality rate, and, while breast cancer occurs in all races, the rate of TNBC is higher in black women.

The first session of this program will cover the basics of breast cancer, particularly the subtypes that affect black women. Stefan Ambs at the National Cancer Institute seeks to identify the racial/ethnic differences in tumor biology that influence the presentation of the disease or its response to therapy. Ambs will discuss novel targets in advanced breast cancer in black patients. Patricia Thompson of The University of Arizona Cancer Center will highlight ethnic differences and imbalances in outcomes of early-stage breast cancer. KiTani Parker–Johnson of Xavier University of Louisiana will discuss the role of the external microenvironment in recruiting breast cancer cells to proliferate, migrate and invade other tissues.

The second session will address an emerging breakthrough in TNBC: a concurrence that it is not one disease but instead a result of diverse genotypes. Matthew Meyerson of the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute has been involved in one of the most successful sequencing efforts that confirms this, and his group observed a fusion of MAGI3 and AKT3 in TNBC that presents a potential therapeutic target. Brian Lehmann, a postdoc in the lab of Jennifer Pietenpol at the Vanderbilt–Ingram Cancer Center, is working to elucidate molecular differences to identify targets and shape drug-discovery efforts. Eddie Reed of the University of South Alabama has had a successful career in research and clinical practice and will discuss the possible role of translational nucleotide excision repair in TNBC.

The third session will feature Chindo Hicks of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who studies bioinformatics and genomics of complex human diseases. Hicks, who is developing and applying these tools to identify biomarkers and targets from gene-expression data, will focus on breast cancer in minorities. Rick Kittles of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago will present his use of genomewide association studies to identify common genetic factors that influence health and disease and to predict targets for cancer in black patients. He seeks to identify genetic and environmental factors to better understand the complex issues surrounding race, genetic ancestry and health disparities using GWAS and other -omics tools. Fatima Jackson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is using genetic mapping to link and predict black breast-cancer patient outcomes in the United States based on tribal roots in continental Africa.


Photo of KiTani-Parker JohnsonPhoto of Gloria ThomasKiTani Parker–Johnson (kparker1@xula.edu) is an assistant professor in the division of basic pharmaceutical sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana. Gloria Thomas (gthomas5@xula.edu) is an assistant professor at Xavier University of Louisiana and a member of the ASBMB Minority Affairs Committee.

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