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Dr. Bernard Friedenson
Associate Professor

  • PhD, University of Minnesota,
  • Postdoctoral, Roswell Park Memorial Institute, Buffalo, NY

Research Interests:
Cancer is highly heterogeneous due to ongoing mutation processes and development of cells with growth or survival advantages. Spontaneous mutations can occur after exposure to some pathogens, to chemicals, to radiation and other DNA damaging agents. Sequencing DNA from tumors of individual cancer patients provides a wealth of information about which mutations are present and overall cancer diversity. The resulting individual human cancer DNA sequences are each unique and permit therapy custom tailored to an individual cancer patient. The best way to do this tailoring is still uncertain.

Immunotherapy is one option. Normally, the human immune system actively patrols the body to remove abnormal cells so that they do not develop into tumors.

Immunotherapy strategies to treat cancer seek to stimulate the immune system so that it will recognize cancers that have escaped immune surveillance. Although the stimulated immune system may now attack the cancer, it may also reject internal organs, cause systemic inflammation or even new cancers.

I have reviewed evidences that mutations that compromise immune system defenses against viruses and other infections play a larger role than previously thought. Even microbes that are normally harmless can become dangerous pathogens and stimulate cancer development.

In-depth functional analyses of thousands of breast cancer gene mutations showed us vastly different sets of mutated genes when individual cancers from hundreds of patients were compared. Despite a unique set of gene mutations in every cancer, we found that immune responses and/or metabolic reactions supporting immune responses were always damaged. Because immune functions depend on many different genes, mutation in any one given gene may be rare.

Selected Publications

Friedenson B. Mutations in components of antiviral or microbial defense as a basis for breast cancer (Review). Functional and Integrative Genomics. (2013) 4: 411-424.

Friedenson B. Mutations in Breast Cancer Exome Sequences Predict Susceptibility to Infections and Converge on the Same Signaling Pathways. Journal of Genomes and Exomes. (2015) 4: 1-28.

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Publications

View Publications on PubMed