The research arm of the Elliott-Elliott-Baucom Center, The Mastology Research Institute, is a state-of-the-art research facility, one of the most complete and advanced breast cancer research centers in the United States. Researchers at the Center, including Dr. Robert Elliott and Dr. Xianpeng Jiang, have been involved in work to find answers about what causes a tumor to grow, which chemical substances can slow or even stop a tumor’s growth, and what signs in a woman’s tumor tissue, or new signs in the blood, predict or signal early recurrence. Their discoveries and advances have been instrumental in improving treatment success rates for patients at the EEB Center. Because of their research, the medical team can identify new cancerous growths and recurrences while they are still small and more easily treated, and implement immediate treatment that could save a woman’s life. Dr. Elliott and his team of researchers have also developed a patented breast cancer vaccine.
OUR CURRENT RESEARCH
The typical drugs used in cancer chemotherapy are very toxic and thus cause many undesirable side effects. We have found that by binding chemotherapeutic agents to transferrin we can target the drug to the cancer and deliver effective chemotherapy without the undesirable side effects.
Two vaccine programs are available for breast and prostate cancer. The breast cancer vaccine program uses autologous and allogeneic tumor cells, tumor marker proteins, and the biological adjuvants GM-CSF and IL-2 in a vaccine to stimulate our patients’ immune responses to their own tumors. The prostate cancer vaccine only uses tumor marker proteins (PSA, etc.), as autologous prostate cancer cells are not readily available.
Infrared imaging of the breast is being further developed and improved for risk assessment, diagnosis and prognosis in breast cancer. There is also an attempt to use infrared imaging to follow therapeutic responses in breast cancer patients. We are presently participating in a government sponsored multi-institutional study to integrate state-of-the-art infrared imaging technology and computer assisted image analysis into the clinical reading of breast infrared imaging.
We are presently developing methods of measuring oncogenes and relating them to diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy selection for breast cancer patients. Preclinical studies are proceeding to demonstrate that antisense to genes involved in iron metabolism (ferritin and transferrin receptors) can inhibit breast cancer cell growth. We hope to initiate clinical trials in the not too distant future.