Creating New Treatments for Metastatic Breast Cancer

Start Year: 2019
Finish Year: 2021
Chief Investigator: Dr Liz Caldon
Institution: Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Advanced estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer is responsible for over half of breast cancer deaths. CDK4/6 inhibitor drugs such as Palbociclib and Ribociclib were approved for advanced ER+ breast cancer in 2015 in the USA.  These are the most effective drugs to be released for ER+ breast cancer in the last 10 years, doubling progression-free survival rates. In addition, the drugs have the advantage of being orally administered with few side effects.

Despite the success, drug resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors is already being observed in the clinic, with the cancer often returning after about 20 months of treatment. Given these drugs are still so new, there is no knowledge or strategy on how to treat patients once their cancer becomes resistant to CDK4/6 inhibitors.

NBCF-funded researcher Dr Liz Caldon and her team have developed experimental models that mimic the development of CDK4/6 resistance and will now study the mechanisms of resistance in more detail. They will determine whether existing drug treatments could be used to treat CDK4/6 resistant cancer, or whether better alternatives can be identified. These findings will be developed into early phase clinical trial of treatment options for patients with drug-resistant ER+ breast cancer.