As a translational scientist, Yesim Polar’s main research goal is to identify ways to prevent the development of cancer drug resistance and recurrence, particularly in breast cancer. She focuses on biomarkers that alter the prognosis in breast cancers that are positive for a mutation in the gene that codes for estrogen receptors (ER).
In her recent work, Polar describes a novel molecular function of splicing factor epithelial splicing regulatory protein 1, or ESRP1, in the poor prognosis of ER-positive breast cancer.
“Basically, we show that [elevated gene expression levels of ESRP1 alters] the metabolic pathway genes and plays a role in ER-positive breast cancer resistance to endocrine therapies,” said Polar.
Polar’s group also studies ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), breast lesions that are pre-invasive or precancerous but can become invasive breast cancer. They study signatures and the parameters that are associated with the occurrence of these lesions—transcription regulation and the mechanisms behind recurrence—and develop therapeutic agents to target them.
According to Polar, the solutions of choice for discovery and verification in her group are the Applied Biosystems Clariom D Assays because they offer advantages over RNA-Seq for rare variants and low expressers.
“This technique has huge advantages for transcriptome profiling,” said Polar. “You have multiple probes for each exon and multiple probes for each exon–exon junction. This increases the accuracy and sensitivity of the assay. Secondly, we are using very challenging samples like formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues. These tissues are very precious, and usually we get very low amounts of RNA from them. And it’s challenging because the RNA is fragmented. We have been successfully using the Applied Biosystems Clariom D Pico kits for these applications. Another aspect and unique advantage of the Clariom D Assay is that it provides a free analysis software [Transcriptome Analysis Console].”
Polar hopes to see her studies on ER-positive breast cancers translated to the clinical setting. She has published approximately 50 scientific journal articles in the field of cancer biology.