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Brittany Jennings
January 17, 2020

Juliane Nguyen, Pharm.D., Ph.D., is on a mission to develop the next generation of safe and effective biotherapeutics for life-threatening diseases such as triple-negative breast cancer.

Nguyen, an associate professor in UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics, said while some patients diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer do well if they are showing early responses to chemotherapy, the overall prognosis for women with the aggressive cancer remains poor.

“In contrast to other breast cancer subtypes, patients are more likely to have residual disease after primary therapy and recurrences and metastases occur early,” Nguyen said. “Because no targeted therapies are available to patients with this type of cancer and many patients are unresponsive to chemotherapy, there is an urgent need for novel treatment approaches.”

The National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute agrees, granting Nguyen $1,759,770 over the next five years to study new approaches.

Nguyen and her colleague Dr. Shelton Earp, director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, are working together to develop a targeted, protein-based therapeutic platform designed to convert tumor-promoting macrophages (large white blood cells) to suppress tumor growth.

She said the new delivery platform could improve therapeutic outcomes in cancer patients, particularly where tumor-associated macrophages are linked with poor clinical outcomes.

“We are excited to have the National Cancer Institute support our research. This funding will allow us to further develop our technology,” Nguyen said. “We hope that it will help patients suffering from breast cancer and other types of cancer.”

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