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SU2C Canada Metastatic Breast Cancer Dream Team: Targeting mRNA Translation to Effectively Treat Metastatic Breast Cancer

Team Leaders

  • Nahum Sonenberg, PhD
    Nahum Sonenberg, PhD
    McGill University
    Leader
    Full Bio
  • Michael Pollak, MD
    Michael Pollak, MD
    Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research
    Co-leader
    Full Bio

Overview:

This Dream Team is investigating a new way to treat metastatic breast cancer by interrupting the ability of breast cancer cells to manufacture the proteins they need to aggressively spread to organs beyond the breast. The new treatment, being tested for the first time in humans, strikes at the process that allows breast cancer to go from a localized problem to a potentially fatal disease. If successful, this work will open a new approach to the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

Great progress has been made in the treatment of breast cancer, and disease that remains localized to the breast can be treated successfully in most cases. However, effective treatments are not yet available for breast cancer that has metastasized, or spread, to the lungs, the bones, or other organs. Metastatic breast cancer is driven in part by out-of-control production of proteins by the cancerous cells. This happens when the basic cell machinery that translates genetic instructions into functioning protein becomes dysfunctional and aggressively produces matter that healthy cells don’t need.

The Dream Team is testing a new, small-molecule inhibitor of the kinases MNK1 and MNK2, two enzymes that are key regulators of the messenger RNA (mRNA) translation process. The inhibitor works against the proteins needed for aggressive, metastatic behavior and may also help the body’s immune system fight the cancer. The agent being tested, eFT508 (tomivosertib), is known to inhibit the translational process but has not yet been applied to metastatic breast cancer. This first-in-human study is administering this novel treatment to metastatic breast cancer patients for whom the standard of care has not been effective, in the hope that it will halt or slow the metastatic process.

Scientific Abstract (PDF)
Team Progress Updates (PDF)

Team Roster

Nahum Sonenberg, PhD
McGill University
Leader

Michael Pollak, MD
Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research
Co-leader

Poul Sorensen, MD, PhD
University of British Columbia
Principal Investigator

Lynne-Marie Postovit
University of Alberta
Principal Investigator

Vuk Stambolic
University of Toronto
Principal Investigator

Lynn Gentile
Founder and director, Lynn and Joe Gentile Hope Fund
Advocate

Candace Cook
Breast cancer patient
Advocate

Harvey W. Smith, PhD
Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University
Project Manager


Publications
This team started its work in Spring 2019. Links to publications will be posted when they are available.