Pharmacy professor awarded grant to fight aggressive form of breast cancer

Dr Mahavir Chougule in his laboratory
Dr. Mahavir Bhupal Chougule. Photo by Aaron Williams

More than 300,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with one aggressive form of breast cancer in 2023. But better treatment may be on the horizon, thanks to a significant grant awarded to a Mercer University College of Pharmacy faculty member and his team.

The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $143,000 grant to Dr. Mahavir Bhupal Chougule, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, to develop first-in-class medicines that will block the function of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) in this form of breast cancer.

“HER2 is very difficult to treat and has a higher death rate than other forms of cancer, even with the use of available medicines,” Dr. Chougule said.

In normal cells, HER2 helps control cell growth. However, cancer cells that make too much may grow faster and are more likely to spread to other parts of the body.

With this grant, Dr. Chougule and his team will develop and test new medicines that inhibit HER2 in breast cancer cells. They will also study safer dose determinations, how the medicine is circulated in the body, and the efficacy of treatment using breast cancer models.

“This funding underscores the critical role that dedicated researchers like Dr. Chougule play in driving innovation and progress in the fight against breast cancer,” said Dr. Ajay K. Banga, chair and professor of pharmaceutical sciences and co-director of the Center for Drug Delivery Research, located at Mercer’s Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta. “We are proud of the life-changing research Dr. Chougule and all of our researchers are pursuing at the College of Pharmacy.”

The project, “Characterization of HER2 inhibitors with a novel mechanism of action,” is funded for two years, beginning in February 2025.


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