Dr. Kevin Kalinsky, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, has been granted a SWOG/Hope Foundation Impact Award.
Kevin Kalinsky 1
Project title: “Master regulator analysis to prioritize testing of patient-derived xenografts to identify effective precision treatments for patients with residual disease after neoadjuvant breast cancer chemotherapy”

Project description:
Precision medicine tailors treatment to the individual. Precision cancer therapy tailors a treatment approach to a specific patient’s tumor. One emerging approach is to sequence the tumor cell’s DNA in an attempt to identify the few changes in the DNA that actually caused the cancer and then match drugs against these “driver” mutations. However, this approach has been shown to be effective in only a minority of patients.

An alternative and complementary approach with promise of significantly increased efficacy is to identify the genes, called master regulators (MRs), that control the program of altered gene expression required for continued growth and survival of a specific tumor. Patient derived xenografting (PDXs) is a method of growing a specific patient’s tumor in mice in order to test a few potential treatments to see which works best. Treatment response in a PDX is highly predictive of response in the corresponding patient. This proposal leverages these precision tools by using MR analysis to identify and prioritize the drugs tested in PDX models, an overall strategy called MR-directed therapy.

This work will validate MR-directed therapy using PDXs from tumors that do not respond to neoadjuvant [i.e. before surgery] chemotherapy (NACT). Lack of response to NACT is highly predictive of outcome, and these patients are at high risk of relapse and death. There is an unmet need to identify tailored therapy to these patients. MR-directed therapy is also generalizable to all cancers, with the potential of decreasing cancer mortality.

It is hoped that the results of this project will serve as the basis for a future SWOG breast cancer trial.

To learn more about the Impact Award, visit the programs page.