One research interest of the Semenza lab is to unravel how the HIF-1 gene plays an important role in critical aspects of cancer biology, including tumor angiogenesis, regulation of glucose and energy metabolism, invasion, metastasis and resistance to chemotherapy.
Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are defined by the lack of expression in genes, including estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. Chemotherapy is the primary established systemic treatment for TNBC, both in the early and advanced stages, with a durable response rate of less than 20 percent. Thus, it is critical to understand the properties of TNBC cells that survive chemotherapy in order to reduce patient mortality. Through my research, I identified how the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) orchestrate both the intrinsic and acquired resistance in TNBC.