Dr. Barbara Mueller awarded $2 million grant to fight breast cancer

The toll of advanced breast cancer on women’s lives remains unacceptably high and new approaches are needed to treat the disease. By investigating a new cell surface receptor that appears to control the breast cancer invasion and metastasis, Dr. Barbara M. Mueller and researchers at Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies are identifying new mechanisms to treat late-stage breast cancer, thanks to a $2 million grant awarded by the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute.

The discovery of the new protein, known as the plasminogen receptor (Plg-RKT), may be the missing link that increases breast cancer progression. Dr. Mueller is collaborating with Dr. Lindsey A. Miles from The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla CA, who first described this receptor. Dr. Mueller will use the grant funds to assess the potential therapies of blocking the plasminogen receptor to treat advanced breast cancer.

“Today there is still only a limited number of proteins that are useful targets in breast cancer. Our early data show that Plg-RKT is found in most advanced breast cancer, including tumors that are ER-positive, HER2-positive and triple negative. If our laboratory studies are successful, then anti-PLG-RKT antibodies can be combined with existing therapies to achieve better outcomes in patients with advanced breast cancer” stated Dr. Mueller.