“Many women with breast cancer benefit from PARP inhibitors. These drugs attack the tumor cells where it hurts: the self-repairing mechanism. The issue is that tumors can become resistant over time. We often see new mutations occur that reactivate the tumor. It’s important to find the genes in which these mutations occur so we can try to prevent or postpone resistance.
I searched for these gene mutations in mouse models and human cells. We can often treat these mutations with existing medicines to prevent resistance. In combination with PARP inhibitors this approach may be able to extend the lives of breast cancer patients. Of course we still have to investigate whether this is the case in clinical practice. I remain hopeful. I would like to be able to help women with breast cancer. That was my goal when I arrived here several years ago from the south of Portugal.
Soon I’ll be starting at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) in Barcelona. I think I’ll miss the general atmosphere here most of all: you are welcome to approach anyone with your questions, that’s truly unique.”
Mariana will defend her thesis on January 18.
prof. dr. J.M.M. Jonkers
This research was made possible by the European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program (Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant), Oncode Institute, and Cancer Genomics Netherlands.