SU2C Scientific Research Teams
Targeting PI3K in Women’s Cancers
Gordon B. Mills, M.D., Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Systems Biology, Department of Molecular Therapeutics, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
+ Full Bio
“I’m fully convinced that cancer is a logical disease. That there is a logic to how the cancer develops, and if you understand the logic you can understand how to tackle it. So know your enemy. Cancer is our enemy…” - Lewis C. Cantley, Ph.D.
The PI3K Dream Team is developing clinical techniques that may lead to therapeutic combinations able to hit multiple targets in the complex pathways that contribute to cancer cell growth in a variety of women’s cancers, such as breast, ovarian, uterine and endometrial cancers.
The leaders of this Team are the pioneers who discovered the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase (PI3K) pathway, a complex signaling cascade that promotes cancer cell growth and survival. They also discovered frequent mutations that occur in a set of genes that regulate the PI3K pathway.
Drugs that can inhibit the PI3K pathway have been developed and are now in clinical trials. However, it currently is not possible to predict which tumors will respond to a PI3K inhibitor. This means that many women will be given treatments that have no benefit to them or could cause unnecessary complications.
This Dream Team is trying to devise ways to predict which tumors will respond positively to a PI3K inhibitor. The team is starting a slew of Phase II breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer clinical trials that can identify predictive biomarkers and effective drug combinations. If successful, this work will accelerate personalized cancer care that can be incorporated into standard practice by doctors across the country.
Watch a short video in which the PI3K Team leaders Cantley, Sawyers and Mills talk about the science behind their project: