Stephanie Dance-Barnes, Ph.D.
Research Interests: Cancer biology; with emphasis on the genomic and biological characterization of human tumors in an effort to develop novel targeted therapies.
Human breast tumors show great diversity in their morphologies, clinical histories and in their responsiveness to chemotherapy. The genomic characterization of human breast tumors has identified at least five biologically distinct subtypes including Luminal A, Luminal B, Basal-like, HER2+ and Normal-like. There has also been a newly described subtype “Claudin-low”, which appears enriched for stem cell markers and that becomes more enriched following treatment. This wide tumor diversity poses one of the central challenges to the accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of breast cancers. The focus of my lab is to characterize the biological diversity of tumors using genomics, molecular genetics, and cell biology, in order to develop improved and more targeted therapies that are specific for each tumor subtype. Presently my lab is utilizing mouse mammary tumors cells cultured from mice in which K14-Cre has deleted p53 and BRCA1. These mouse mammary tumor cells appear to initially possess a basal-like phenotype and are responsive to a number of breast cancer treatments such as, Carboplatin, Paclitaxel, and a combination of the two agents. Serial transplants of these tumors have resulted in them presenting a more claudin-low phenotype, and also being resistant to treatments. Members of my lab are presently utilizing several alternative natural cancer treatments in an effort to overcome the treatment resistance exhibited by these mouse mammary tumors. It is the ultimate goal of my lab to use genomics, genetics, cell culture, and animal models to decipher the underlying biology of the molecular subtypes of breast cancer, and then using this biological information develop therapies that are specifically targeted against each of these distinct subtypes of breast cancer.