Dr. Anna Zolkiewska

Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

“Tumor recurrence and metastasis are the major causes of death among breast cancer patients. Research from many laboratories indicates that recurrence and metastasis are promoted by breast tumor-initiating cells (BTICs). Despite a substantial amount of effort worldwide, there are currently no pharmacological treatments that would eradicate BTICs or prevent their expansion. Conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy, while destroying the majority of tumor cells, are not effective against BTICs. Our goal is to understand how BTICs differ from the rest of breast tumor cells and how this knowledge can be used to develop new anti-BTICs strategies. Currently, our work is focused on ADAM12, a cell surface metalloprotease and adhesion molecule, as a novel marker and a potential point of intervention in BTICs. Our studies are significant because they strive to produce new research and diagnostic tools for detection of BTICs and to develop new therapies to targetBTICs, which are of critical importance to improve patient survival.”