V Scholar Plus Award- extended funding for exceptional V Scholars
Cancers are diseases caused by faulty genes. Finding these faulty genes will provide effective targets for treatment. To this end, researchers have discovered many gene mutations in all kinds of cancers. However, cancer cells can acquire random mutations, as they are highly unstable. Thus, it is critical to find out which mutations play a causal role in cancer.
To address this problem, we have developed a novel method for studying cancer mutations. We used stem cells to create breast cancer models carrying patient relevant mutations. Using these models, we will study which mutations are responsible for the resistance to cancer treatment. We focus on the treatment that block an important cancer gene, PI3 Kinase. Faulty activation of this gene has been found in many breast cancers. Thus, it is an important cancer target. We have found a specific gene mutation that causes the resistance to this treatment. In this project, we will understand how does this mutation cause the resistance. Based on our mechanistic finding, we will also develop new strategies to overcome the resistance. Thus, successful outcomes of our study will aid the development of effective cancer therapies.