Funded by the Kay Yow Cancer Fund
One of the greatest challenges in cancer treatment is that response to standard chemotherapy is frequently incomplete and fraught with adverse events. Current treatments are often ineffective because they function as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to a very diverse disease. This lack of success is magnified in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), whose large and diverse group of subtypes greatly increases difficulty in treating a disease that makes up 15% of all breast cancers and disproportionately affects African American and Hispanic women. The goal of our project is to address these challenges by identifying and characterizing specific tumor vulnerabilities in TNBC to pave the way for novel combined chemotherapeutic treatments. By screening through each gene in the genome, we have found that TNBC cancers rely on a protein called SIK2 for their survival. We are working to understand why SIK2 is essential and to use inhibitors of SIK2 function to reduce TNBC tumor survival.