The Expert

TNBC - attempting to create a targeted therapy

Earlier this year I attended a panel led discussion  focusing on new developments in Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Although the news was hopeful, I left the discussion with a slew of questions and yearning to get some answers, from a ground level perspective.   I wanted to know if there was anyone out there specifically addressing the need to find a targeted therapy for TNBC.   

Luckily, after looking around, my search led me to someone whose investigative prowness has led to significant advances in cancer research.  Dr. Ming-Ming Zhou, Ph.D., is an internationally known expert in structural and chemical biology. Currently a Harold & Golden Lamport Professor & Chairman & Co-Director, Experimental Therapeutics Institute @ the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in NYC.  Basically Dr. Zhou is a research super nova🌟!

Dr. Zhou, was generous enough to take some time out of his extremely heavy workload to meet with me & break down, what he's tackling. (I observed as his office was still clamouring & popping with a slew of people wanting to see him after 5:00pm).  Dr. Zhou explained that several research projects are in the works, one of which includes a collaboration with Dr. Samuel Waxman, Founder & CEO of the Samuel Waxman Research Foundation, to produce a less toxic targeted therapy regime for TNBC. 

Dr. Zhou indicated that the molecular and cellular mechanism underlying TNBC pathology are not fully understood.  Dr.  Zhou described in a short synopsis the goal, which is to apply a minimally toxic derivative of Vitamin A, with specific molecular inhibitors, to reprogram TNBC cells.  I explained to Dr. Zhou that the only treatment offered me and many other's diagnosed with TNBC was and is chemotherapy, and how difficult the treatment can be.  Although I've met several woman who are living full, productive lives, many years after initial diagnosis & treatment, the question remains, "When will there be a cure?"  In addition I complained about the fact that currently, TNBC (which lacks the three receptors: estrogen, progesterone & her2, known to fuel most breast cancer) has no other treatment options (such as a hormone suppression) and how disturbing this reality is (yeah, that's right, I got a serious case of the step child syndrome).  

Dr. Zhou went on to assure me, he understood my concerns and empathized that chemo is "a rough road", but he is hopeful his team will find an answer, to assist with the management of TNBC.  He also offered some words of advice. "Right now you should be doing everything in your life on a regular schedule."  "Whether it be meals, excercise, working, sleeping, whatever - it should be done on a regular schedule"  "The immune system functions better when on a regular schedule and not overwhelmed."

I ask Dr. Zhou what stage this particular project was currently  in.  He explained that research is currently being done on mice, with the goal of testing the therapy in clinical trials.  Of course, forever inquisitive, I ask "So, how long does the process take before it goes to clinical trail?"  Dr. Zhou explained it is a serious & drawn out process.  "First we have to be assured the hypothesis works in mice & then more importantly the process is safe, before we offer a clinical trial." "The FDA has strict standards."

Dr. Zhou then went on to declare emphatically that he is passionate about breast cancer awareness and dedicated to finding a targeted therapy for TNBC.  His enthusiasm and leadership give hope, to myself and thousands of others, that his team will make an impact and eventually find a solution.