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Researcher aims to improve breast cancer treatment


As one of the university’s “young investigators” cancer researcher Waheed Sangrar is exploring new ways to improve current treatments for breast cancer. An adjunct professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, he has recently received a three-year, $307,611 grant from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) to support his research.

Dr. Sangrar’s team is focusing on two interacting proteins – Fer and cortactin – both of which have been implicated in tumor progression. Working in collaboration with Pathology and Molecular Medicine professor Peter Greer, Dr. Sangrar has recently uncovered evidence that Fer and cortactin may regulate how cells respond to certain types of very reactive chemicals known as oxidants.

Oxidants are normally generated by the body’s cells, and are necessary for regular cell function. However, the loss of a cell’s ability to regulate oxidants has been linked to tumour development.

Dr. Sangrar is investigating whether the regulation of oxidants by Fer and cortactin plays an important role in breast cancer. “If we can come up with proof that Fer and cortactin contribute to the progression and spread of breast cancer, we can then go ahead and begin developing anti-cancer drugs that can inhibit them,” says Dr. Sangrar. “That would be very exciting!”

The Queen’s team is also working on another line of study in which they are trying to take advantage of many recently developed anti-cancer drugs.

“Our aim is to identify ‘cocktails’ of these new drugs, which in combination, are more effective than the breast cancer therapies available today,” Dr. Sangrar continues. “Finding new and effective drug combinations represents one of the next major steps forward in cancer therapy, and we are very eager to make contributions in this way.”


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