Damon Runyon Researchers

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Mira A. Patel, MD

One of the leading causes of death from cancer is metastasis, or when cancer spreads from its original tissue to other parts of the body. A gene that all humans carry, called Apolipoprotein E (APOE), plays a role in how our bodies respond to cancer, including risk of metastasis. The gene comes in one of three forms: APOE2, APOE3, or APOE4. Individuals who carry APOE2 tend to fare worse when diagnosed with melanoma, while those who carry APOE4 tend to have a much lower risk of melanoma metastasis and a much better chance of survival. (Those who carry APOE3 fall somewhere in between.) Dr. Patel is researching how APOE expression in immune cells either promotes cancer targeting, as in the case of APOE4, or cancer cell survival, as in the case of APOE2. With a better understanding of how the APOE gene affects the body's response to cancer, she hopes to improve cancer therapy by tailoring treatment to the form of APOE each patient carries.

Project title: "Molecular mechanisms of human APOE-mediated myeloid cell modulation in cancer"
Institution: The Rockefeller University
Award Program: Physician-Scientist
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Sohail F. Tavazoie, MD, PhD
Cancer Type: Skin
Research Area: Tumor Immunology