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Targeting Metabolic Vulnerabilities in Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Alternative title: Utnyttelse av en metabolsk sårbarhet i trippel-negativ brystkreft

Awarded: NOK 5.0 mill.

Triple negative breast cancer is a highly aggressive type of cancer. Not only is it very aggressive it is also inherently difficult to treat because of resistance to current therapies and the lack of new ones. Whereas other types of breast cancer have targeted therapies - that is therapies that specifically interfere with the biology that drives that specific type of cancer - we do not currently have any such powerful therapeutic options for triple negative breast cancer. As cancers grow they continuously need to produce the building blocks for all new cells. This includes lipids, proteins, DNA, and RNA. The material for these building blocks typically stems from the metabolic pathways of the cells. Metabolism is perhaps based known as the process by which cells fulfill their energetic demands, however, providing the building blocks for growth is equally, if not more, important. We have previously searched for metabolic genes and pathways that triple-negative cancer cells require to grow. By manipulating these genetically we have shown that triple-negative breast cancer cells are absolutely dependent on these pathways and thus highly vulnerable if we can develop effective therapeutic interventions. In this project, we hope to develop something called a small molecule inhibitor of a critical metabolic enzyme. By doing this we aim to stop tumor growth and spread in triple-negative breast cancer patients. Should we be successful, we will initiate an entrepreneurial endeavor to either start a new biotech company or license our product to an existing pharma comapany and thereby hopefully be able to stop this aggressive disease.

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