Burkard to Use Partnership Grant for Studies of Aggressive Breast Cancer
Madison, Wisconsin - A University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center researcher, using a two-year grant from the Wisconsin Partnership Program, will study an approach to targeted treatment for women with the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.
Burkard is studying ways to improve treatment of "polyploidy" breast cancers - those in which cancer cells have extra chromosomes. At least 20 percent of breast cancers have such extra chromosomes and the prognosis for such cancers is poor.
Burkard says many current medicines work for fewer than half of breast cancer patients, but physicians are unable to determine which patients will benefit. The goal of the research is to personalize treatment based on whether a tumor has extra DNA and chromosomes.
Burkard's research group recently discovered a chemical that selectively destroys human cells that have double chromosomes. The group hopes to develop a chemical into a breast cancer treatment that can be reserved for cancers with extra chromosomes.
The study will also count chromosomes in breast tumor tissue collected at UW Hospital and Clinics over the past decade. Burkard will test if extra chromosomes are common in the 15 percent of breast cancers that are classified as "triple negative" and if they correlate with worse prognosis. Triple negative breast cancers are not fueled by estrogen, progesterone or the HER2 protein and do not respond to many standard cancer drugs.
Burkard's proposal is one of three funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program through the New Investigator Program. The grants from the Partnership Education and Research Committee (PERC) fund innovative projects at the School of Medicine and Public Health that are aimed at improving health in Wisconsin.
Since 2004, the Partnership Education and Research Committee has awarded more than $64 million in grants for projects that improve the health and well-being of Wisconsin residents.
Date Published: 01/04/2012