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Dr. Pilar Blancafort with Nick Valvano at the award ceremony.
Dr. Blancafort’s research has developed a novel approach to regulate and identify groups of genes that cooperate to induce cell invasion in immortalized breast epithelial cells. Large libraries of artificial transcription factors are used in a phenotypic screen to select for breast cells that are "reprogrammed" to become invasive and metastatic. These novel ATF "regulators" of breast tumor progression will be linked to different effector domains to assess their capability to modulate metastasis in an orthotopic xenograft model in nude mice. These novel ATFs could be used as powerful genetic switches to modulate metastatic dissemination in cancer patients.