A group of biological and agricultural engineering students at LSU is researching better drug and treatment methods in an effort to lower the mortality rate for breast cancer, one of the most common cancers in Louisiana and the cause of an estimated 41,000 deaths nationwide this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
As Business Report details in a new feature, the dozen or so students are mentored by LSU professor Elizabeth Martin and they’re working on a variety of projects. Among them: trying to create a better tumor model as well as identifying how breast cancer and stromal cell interactions lead to drug resistance.
“We’re hoping that we can shift the way people are looking at progression and causes of cancer,” Martin says. “If we look past the cancer cells, what else is there that we can be treating?”
The overall approval rate for drugs for tumors from clinical trials is 8.3%, according to an MIT study released earlier this year. For years, researchers have struggled to predict how compounds would react once in clinical trials, a lengthy process that can cost up to $78.6 million, according to an evaluation filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“We can’t predict how a drug is going to behave once we go from a lab setting into the body, even from the mouse model to a human model,” says Ethan Byrne, a Ph.D. student from Walker who has worked under Martin since 2016. Read the full feature.