Posted on: November 8, 2019; Updated on: July 31, 2020
The future of cancer research is being conducted within the walls of the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy.
Among the 1.5 million people around the world who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer, 65% will be diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive (ER-positive) type cancer. According to Ozgur Sahin, associate professor in Drug Discovery & Biomedical Sciences, this cancer can return in a more aggressive form and potentially metastasize to other parts of the body.
Sahin is the recipient of a Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society that could impact the way many breast cancer patients will be treated in the future.
The grant, totaling nearly $800,000 over the next four years, will support Sahin’s team research on overcoming tamoxifen resistance and blocking metastasis in breast cancer. Tamoxifen is a drug commonly used to treat patients with ER-positive type cancer.
Our hope is that the research results from this grant will lay the foundation for repositioning available drugs that will prevent patients from becoming resistant to their treatments ...
Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., Associate Professor
“Our hope is that the research results from this grant will lay the foundation for repositioning available drugs that will prevent patients from becoming resistant to their treatments and to keep the cancer from returning and spreading to other areas of the body,” Sahin says.
Preliminary studies have identified a specific protein and RNA molecule that are present at higher levels in tamoxifen-resistant cancer cells. Because inhibitors for this protein are already available and used in treating other diseases, such as psoriasis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, Sahin’s study will determine if these inhibitors will result in reducing drug resistance in cancer cells.
In acknowledging Sahin's work, College of Pharmacy Dean Stephen J. Cutler notes the competition for these grants is extremely high.
“These grants are extremely competitive, and for the ACS to bestow such an award to Dr. Sahin acknowledges the significance of the work he is doing for the College of Pharmacy," Cutler says.