Professor Sofou receives $450,000 grant for breast cancer research

Assistant Professor Stavroula Sofou
Assistant Professor Stavroula Sofou

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has given Polytechnic Institute of NYU Assistant Professor Stavroula Sofou a $450,000 grant for drug delivery research. The foundation, which is dedicated to fighting breast cancer throughout the world, selected grantees whose efforts are most likely to produce results for cancer patients within the next decade.

In a press release announcing an unprecedented $100 million in grants targeted to 81 universities and hospitals in 27 states and 5 countries, Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, said that the grants are geared toward “finding cures, tailoring treatments and resolving the issues that have stymied the search for a breast cancer cure.”

Professor Sofou, who directs NYU-Poly’s Laboratory for Drug Delivery Systems, will focus primarily on how liposomes can be engineered to improve cancer treatments. Liposomes, tiny bubbles made of cell membrane material, are unique in their ability to be directed to vascularized tumors. Professor Sofou aims to study how liposomes filled with cancer-fighting therapeutics can be targeted to “preferentially deliver and release their lethal cargo into the cancer cells that constitute the tumors.”

This targeted approach is unlike many other current cancer treatments, chemotherapy for example, that are delivered to the entire body. Engineered liposomes have the potential to help eliminate many of the toxic side effects that cancer drugs ordinarily have on patients. The benefits of such a breakthrough include minimizing adverse side effects to normal cells and improving cosmetic outcomes.

Dr.’s Qingshan Mu and Rejwan Ali, post-doctoral fellows at NYU-Poly, and Dr. D.A. Scheinberg of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center will assist Professor Sofou in her pioneering research.

She described her fascination with liposomes and their potential for treating cancer. “Advanced breast cancer has no cure. Proposing to engineer a liposomal delivery carrier that may improve the quality of life for these patients is of great importance to us,” Professor Sofou said.

Ms. Moddelmog noted, “Almost 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. this year and more than 40,000 women and men will die of this disease. That adds urgency to our mission to end breast cancer forever.”

The Komen grants are designed to help scientists and physicians collaborate to get new treatments out of the lab and to patients, and to help young, talented cancer researchers pursue their important work. Professor Sofou’s achievements and ongoing research mean that the NYU-Poly community may play an important role in the search for a cure for breast cancer.