Exploring the Most Effective Ways to Treat Breast Cancer

Chemicals known as anthracyclines, such as doxorubicin, are commonly used to treat breast cancer and other cancers. Ramya Varadarajan, an oncology fellow in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said, “We prescribe anthracyclines because they are safe and remarkably effective anti-cancer agents.”

But, she noted anthracyclines have potential for toxic side effects, including cardiac toxicity, which can pose problems in patients with pre-existing heart conditions.

Thanks to your generous gifts, a multidisciplinary team of oncologists and scientists have been awarded a grant from the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation to evaluate blood levels of the medication in women being treated for breast cancer. The team includes Dr. Tracey O’Connor, Attending Physician in the Department of Medicine; Javier Blanco; an Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Buffalo, Alex A. Adjei; Senior VP of Clinical Research, Gerald J. Fetterly; Director of Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics Core Facility at Roswell Park Cancer Institute,  and Christine Ambrosone; Department of Cancer Prevention and Control.

The research will explore how the genetic make-up of certain women is related to how they react to doxorubicin, with the goal of explaining why some patients may experience some toxicities and why some do not following doxorubicin treatment. 

Dr. Fetterly, a principal investigator in the research, said the overall goal of this project is to look at blood levels of the medication and see if there are any changes resulting from different genetic make-ups.

This project could lead to new research to evaluate the role of genetic factors on toxicity from doxorubicin and treatment outcomes in women with breast cancer.