Cancer Drug Resistance: Challenges and Opportunities

  • Speaker
  • Charles Sawyers, M.D.Chair, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program; Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chair, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Date & Time

About Simons Foundation Lectures

Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.

Cancer resistance to molecularly targeted therapies is a major problem facing researchers. Such resistance can occur when mutations or other genetic alterations restore a signaling pathway downstream of the pathway targeted by the therapy.

In this lecture, Dr. Charles Sawyers will discuss this important area of research using prostate cancer as an example. Recent evidence, for instance, suggests that while more potent inhibitors deliver superior clinical efficacy, they can lead to more diverse mechanisms for cancer cells to escape treatment. Prostate cancers treated with the drug enzalutamide can develop resistance through mutations in the androgen receptor, via bypass of the androgen receptor blockade by signaling through the glucocorticoid receptor, or by lineage plasticity. During lineage plasticity, androgen-dependent luminal epithelial cells undergo an identity change to more basal-like epithelial cells. The complexity underlying these adaptive responses to targeted therapy reinforces the importance of combination therapy to achieve long-term clinical benefit.

About the Speaker

Dr. Charles Sawyers received a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.D. from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, followed by internal medicine residency at the University of California, San Francisco.  He co-discovered the antiandrogen drug enzalutamide, which was approved in 2012 for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.  In 2009, he shared the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for the development of the ABL kinase inhibitors imatinib (Gleevec) and dasatinib (Sprycel) for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. He has served as Chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center since 2006.

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