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Robert Wesolowski, MD

Award Name Davis/Bremer Pilot
Award Date 06/17/2013

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Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells in Patients Receiving Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy for Operable Breast Cancer

Robert Wesolowski, MD, received a Davis/Bremer Pilot Award from The Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science for his research involving the study of “Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells in Patients Receiving Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy for Operable Breast Cancer.”

Wesolowski organizes the OSU Medical Oncology Phase I Clinical Trials meeting for solid tumor oncology which reviews all phase I trials available to patients with solid tumors for available slots, patient eligibility, ongoing toxicities and their progress. 

Wesolowski’s research focuses on how myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC) affect patients with operable breast cancer who receive neo-adjuvant chemotherapy. Neo-adjuvant chemotherapy is given to patients before surgery to remove tumors in the breast. This chemotherapy treatment is done to help shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove. 

Wesolowski believes these cells could help predict whether neo-adjuvant chemotherapy will benefit breast cancer patients before they receive the treatment. By measuring different subsets of circulating MDSC levels before and after neo-adjuvant chemotherapy, he can evaluate how well patients respond to treatment. 

Breast Cancer patients who respond well to neo-adjuvant chemotherapy tend to have significantly better survival rates and are more likely to remain cancer free after treatment. 

Wesolowski also wants to see if the neo-adjuvant chemotherapy received by breast cancer patients can have any effect on circulating MDSC levels, which were discovered only 15 to 20 years ago. 

“These (MDRC) cells are stimulated by cancer cells,” Wesolowski said. “They are thought to have properties that lead to a weaker immune system, which leads to more uncontrolled cancer growth.”

There are many different sub groups of MDSC. Wesolowski’s research team used two sub-populations of MDSC in their study, granulocytic MDSC and monocytic MDSC. 

In the future, Wesolowski is planning to study how different populations of MDSC inhibit patients’ immune systems and explore how MDSC function can be blocked. He feels that inhibiting MDSC function might improve anti-cancer immune responses in patients, possibly leading to better treatments for breast cancer. 

Wesolowski hopes his research will show how to predict which patients with breast cancer will respond well to neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and whether future research should explore MDSC inhibitors to improve breast cancer therapy. 

By Taylor Lucas, April 8, 2014

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