Vanderbilt chemists have been awarded $7.2 million over the next five years from the National Cancer Institute to lead an initiative to better understand how a combination chemotherapy for breast cancer targets DNA.
Michael Stone, PhD, Carmelo Rizzo, PhD, and Martin Egli, PhD, will research the chemical biology of guanine alkylation that occurs with cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin, a treatment often referred to as AC chemotherapy regimen. The chemotherapies are mainstay treatments that have been in clinical use for decades, and there are well-established ideas of how they damage DNA of cancer cells. However, side effects can limit their effectiveness.
“It’s thought that cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin act on different targets independently, but we suspected that they can act synergistically,” said Rizzo, professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a researcher with Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC). “We were able to come up with initial chemical evidence for this idea. The grant is based on this. If they do act synergistically, this could lead to new drugs designed to take advantage of this new mechanism.”