Advances in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer begin in laboratories. Here’s a peek into one lab at Upstate that received grants this year from the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund:
A family of molecules known as the Wave Complex interact within our cells. Which molecular family members are present at any given time in the life of a cell determines how that cell will behave: how it gets nutrition, whether and how it moves, whether it remains stationery.
This complex appears to play a major role in the invasive types of breast cancer, says Leszek Kotula, PhD, associate professor of urology and biochemistry and molecular biology. Working on the theory that the Wave Complex could be a target for therapy are Kotula and two colleagues, Steve Landas, MD, professor of pathology and urology, and Mira Krendel, PhD, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology.
When they increase some specific molecules in the complex, the cancer spreads, Kotula says. He adds that by decreasing certain molecules, “we may actually stop metastasis, or greatly affect it.”
The next step will be to test the effects of existing cancer drugs on these molecules. Landas, a diagnostic pathologist for 35 years, sees the potential. “Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if we find ourselves in a situation where we can look at certain members of this family of molecules and know with a high degree of certainty which drugs will work and which will not?”
Hear an interview with Kotula and Landas about this project