From left: Samuel Waxman, MD, Gregory David, PhD, Ming Ming Zhou, PhD, and Arthur Zelent, PhD


The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s funded team of researchers investigating triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) have published a paper in the scientific journal Oncotarget detailing new findings that indicate two compounds may potentially be used jointly to block critical pathways to TNBC and prevent its spread.

The paper, the fourth in a series of articles documenting the progress of the investigation, details recent findings by collaborators Samuel Waxman, MD, and Ming Ming Zhou, PhD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Gregory David, PhD, of NYU Langone Medical Center, and Arthur Zelent, PhD, of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami. Their work, supported by the SWCRF in partnership with the Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, has seen positive results in the application of the compounds C16 and AM80 in blocking the renewal of TNBC cells in test tubes and inhibiting tumor growth and metastasis in laboratory mice with TNBC. C16 targets the cancer stem cell that enables recurrence, restores cell sensitivity to retinoids (compounds) and prevents metastasis.   

Previously, the team’s analysis of TNBC pathways revealed that the introduction of avermectins – drugs with insecticidal and antiparasitic properties -- made TNBC cells in study mice more sensitive to breast cancer drugs such as tamoxifen.

These positive signs offer hope for the treatment of TNBC, which is highly resistant to hormonal treatment, has a high incidence of recurrence and disproportionately targets African-Americans, Latinas and Ashkenazi women. TNBC is characterized by a lack of estrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors. It is estimated that TNBC accounts for 15 percent to 25 percent of all breast cancer cases.

The SWCRF’s investment in epigenetic research that targets the development of minimally toxic treatments for breast cancer patients is addressing this cancer category on several fronts. 

In addition to the project just published in Oncotarget, SWCRF funds Doris Germain, PhD, who is conducting an investigation at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai on a protein in mothers’ milk which may be used as a sensitivity marker for the early diagnosis of TNBC. 

Grantees Jayanta Debnath, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, and Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, PhD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, are collaborating on research that examines the role of tumor dormancy in preventing the cure of TNBC with a goal of developing a drug.  

Finally, longtime SWCRF collaborator Robert Weinberg, PhD, Founding Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT, continues research on the dynamics of a subset of cancer cells in breast tumors that are highly resistant to chemotherapy and metastasize more efficiently, causing clinical relapse. His work has the goal of developing drugs that target cancer stem cells that pass through epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process that enhances cancer cell mobility and metastasis.

To donate to the SWCRF’s breast cancer programs, click here.

The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. EIN # 13-3020943