Explore UAB

By Jacob Taylor
The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center recently announced the funding of six grants in fall through the fall 2022 round of its ongoing O’Neal Invests program.

 Anna Sorace, Ph.D., assistant professor and researcher for the Department of Biomedical Engineering, was one of the recipients of a pre-R01 grant. The two-year grant will pay $160,000 toward her research project, titled “PDL1-Targeted Theranostic Approaches to Enhance Combination Therapy in TNBC.”

“The Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama partnering with O'Neal to provide substantial funds to kick off this project is amazing,” said Sorace. “This will be critical in making forward progress to develop theranostic and personalized approaches in breast cancer. Our team is thrilled to get started!”

Sorace’s project aims to develop a new imaging therapy, or theranostic, paired approach that targets the protein—programmed death-ligand 1—that will allow her to identify which triple-negative breast cancer tumors have high expression of this protein with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging.

“The goal is to non-invasively identify which tumors express the protein, and then turn around and target it with highly specific targeted radiotherapy, which will be delivered systemically in the same way the imaging probe was,” Sorace says. “These studies will be completed in preclinical mouse models of triple negative breast cancer. Excitingly, we are aiming to repurpose an FDA-approved antibody for the imaging probe to provide a streamlined approach to future clinical translation.”