Dr. Richard Pietras's research focuses on the discovery and design of novel therapies for human solid tumors, such as breast, ovarian and lung cancer.
Specifically, Pietras' laboratory effort is directed toward understanding molecular alterations that are important in converting a normal cell into a cancerous one, with exploitation of biologic differences between normal and tumor cells for therapeutic benefit. Pietras has targeted growth factors and hormones, such as estrogens and their specific receptors, which are crucial in regulating cancer growth. For example, erb B/HER oncogenes encode receptors for epidermal growth factor (EGF), HER-2, HER-3 and HER-4 growth factors. One or more of these oncogenes is overexpressed in two-thirds of breast cancers. Overexpression of these gene products associates with poor outcome in the clinic and predicts responses to chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.
Antibodies and other chemical inhibitors of erb B/HER receptors have significant antitumor activity that is now being utilized in the clinic. Pietras plans to develop further biologic treatments based on new understanding of molecular pathways driving malignant growth and tumor-associated angiogenesis. In this process, screening of hundreds of natural products for antitumor activity will be an important research emphasis. These efforts seek out more efficacious treatments with an improved quality of life for afflicted patients.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications:
Marquez-Garban DC, Mah V, Alavi M, Maresh EL, Chen HW, Bagryanova L, Horvath S, Chia D, Garon E, Goodglick L, Pietras RJ. Progesterone and estrogen receptor expression and activity in human non-small cell lung cancer. Steroids. 2011 Aug;76(9):910-20. Epub 2011 May 8
Márquez-Garbán DC, Chen HW, Goodglick L, Fishbein MC, Pietras RJ. Targeting aromatase and estrogen signaling in human non-small cell lung cancer. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Feb;1155:194-205.
Hurvitz SA, Pietras RJ. Rational management of endocrine resistance in breast cancer: a comprehensive review of estrogen receptor biology, treatment options, and future directions. Cancer. 2008 Nov 1;113(9):2385-97.
Mah V, Seligson DB, Li A, Márquez DC, Wistuba II, Elshimali Y, Fishbein MC, Chia D, Pietras RJ, Goodglick L. Aromatase expression predicts survival in women with early-stage non small cell lung cancer. Cancer Res. 2007 Nov 1;67(21):10484-90.
Pietras RJ, Márquez-Garbán DC. Membrane-associated estrogen receptor signaling pathways in human cancers. Clin Cancer Res. 2007 Aug 15;13(16):4672-6.