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Groundbreaking treatment tool being developed for male breast cancer diagnosis

Doctors diagnosed Christopher Gregg, Ph.D., member of the Nuclear Control of Cell Growth and Differentiation Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute on the University of Utah (the U) and neuroscientist and professor of neurobiology and human genetics on the U, with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in 2018. At that time, he began pondering of how to enhance his treatment.



“The core problem of metastatic cancer is it evolves,” says Gregg. “There could also be a treatment that works today but eventually the disease will change into resistant over time.” He sought to unravel this with a groundbreaking approach called extinction therapy.

Though breast cancer rates for men are much lower than women, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2023, about 2,800 men in the US can be diagnosed with breast cancer and 530 men will die from the disease. Many are diagnosed when the disease has progressed to later stages since it is so rare. Most patients who’ve metastatic cancer receive palliative care, which doesn’t try and cure the disease, but as a substitute focuses on providing relief from the symptoms.

Gregg wanted to avoid wasting lives so he pursued a profession in cancer research. He co-lead the winning team at this 12 months’s 11th annual Moffitt Cancer Center Integrated Mathematical Oncology (IMO) workshop. At this annual event, where leading thinkers from around the globe develop recent innovations in cancer care, Gregg and his team created a tool to assist oncologists determine the appropriate treatment path for patients with metastatic cancer.

On the primary day we decided to make a tool that may help oncologists determine the appropriate medication dose and treatment for every individual patient, giving them each the most effective likelihood at eliminating the cancer and the most effective quality of life. One in every of the most important challenges for cancer treatment is that the drugs are toxic, so not only do we want to consider the disease response but additionally how much of the medication their body can handle for a certain quantity of time.”

Christopher Gregg, Ph.D., member of the Nuclear Control of Cell Growth and Differentiation Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute on the University of Utah

Working across the clock, Gregg’s team used data from his own breast cancer treatment to create a prototype. They created an algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to accurately measure patient symptoms detected from vocal and behavioral information captured via smartphone. This allowed them to exactly measure how a patient is doing during their treatments. Based on their symptoms, the algorithm predicts changes to future symptoms. Oncologists will then find a way to regulate treatments to assist avoid drug toxicity and dangerous unintended effects, ultimately designing the most effective plan for every patient.

With a $50,000 grant from the IMO workshop, Gregg and his team will proceed to develop the tool, using it in a clinical trial on the Moffitt Cancer Center starting January 2024.

“Once I was diagnosed, I asked my oncologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute, if there have been any exciting recent treatments that could possibly be curative,” says Gregg. “She said after a protracted profession in oncology, she’s seen many ideas and recent medicines that did not transform curative. She thought the answer would come from learning use the medications we have already got in a greater way. I began to shift my attention that way.”

Gregg identified ways to assist with metastatic cancer. After finding a promising study, he asked the researchers to return to a symposium at Huntsman Cancer Institute. There, all of them worked together to provide you with Gregg’s first treatment plan, extinction therapy.

Gregg explains that typical look after metastatic patients calls for treatment with medication and if there’s a great response, clinicians give it often. Nonetheless, over time the cancer inevitably evolves and develops resistance to the treatment. Once that happens, doctors introduce a brand new medication. Extinction therapy introduces recent medication before the cancer develops resistance, striking the disease before it progresses. Gregg refers to this as a treatment resistance management plan and believes that these will change into standard practice and improve metastatic cancer care.

“My team on the Moffitt Cancer Center competition included 20 diverse experts from around the globe. Expert mathematicians, researchers, software developers, and clinicians worked together to create an answer for metastatic cancer care. The amazing thing about this workshop is that it creates an environment that fosters collaboration between those that may not often work together,” Gregg says.

Since Gregg’s diagnosis in 2018, he and his oncologist have been in a position to effectively manage treatment resistance in his care. Gregg and his care team proceed to work on stopping the event of resistance.

“I’m doing very well without delay. I’ve continued to innovate and provide you with ideas to regulate the disease,” Gregg says. “I have been off treatment for a lot of months at a time and successfully been in a position to keep the disease stable. My goal is popping metastatic cancer, which is currently a lethal disease, right into a manageable chronic disease that provides patients a top quality of life for a very long time.”

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute including P30 CA042014, U54 CA274507, the Moffitt Center of Excellence for Evolutionary Therapy, Storyline Health Inc., and Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

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