Identification of Auto-antibodies to Breast Cancer Antigens in Breast Cancer Patients
Originally from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, I graduated from Penn State University with a BS in Biology and Honors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I completed my undergraduate thesis with Andrea Mastro, Ph.D studying the inflammatory stress response caused by bone metastatic breast cancer cells and subsequent activation of NF-kappaB in osteoblasts.
I am now an MD/PhD candidate at UVM studying the humoral response to breast cancer in the laboratory of David Krag, MD, FACS. Over the course of my project, I have gained experience with biospecimen procurement, lambda expression libraries, cDNA synthesis, and construction and panning of scFv antibody libraries.
When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy running, skiing, and mountain biking.
Current chemotherapeutic drugs damage virtually all cells of the body and cause significant side effects that make patients very sick. Newer drugs designed to better target cancer cells have limited application and only a select minority of patients is eligible to be treated. This leaves the majority of breast cancer patients without an effective therapy for their breast cancer that is not toxic to the rest of their body.
My study is designed to develop methods to make targeted customized drugs for almost any breast cancer patient that will have limited side effects. It involves using a small sample of the breast cancer and lymph nodes removed during surgery and a blood sample. Special techniques allow us to determine which part of the breast cancer is recognized by the patient’s immune system. By identifying antibodies the patient makes to her own cancer, we can then make more of these antibodies in the laboratory.
These antibodies will be carefully evaluated for use later as possible therapeutic drugs to treat breast cancer. Use of these antibodies as a drug will occur in a later study and is not part of this current study.
There is a great need to develop customized drugs that are safe, effective and available to all cancer patients. This study is designed to use the power of the person’s own immune system to help find and make antibodies that selectively target the breast cancer.
Krulewitz Women’s Health Fellowship Award This award is given to support a medical / graduate student researching independently or assisting with a medical research study related to any topic concerning women’s health. 2011
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