Research Projects

Breast cancer research – Dr Kim Outhoff

Breast cancer research – Dr Kim Outhoff

Dr Kim Outhoff

Dr Kim Outhoff

  • Department of Pharmacology, University of Pretoria
  • E- mail:

Project Title:

The receptor hypothesis of Her-2/erbB-2 positive breast cancer: changing expression and the implications of a moving target

Highlights of the Project:

There are different types of breast cancer including hormone receptor positive, Her-2 receptor positive and triple negative breast cancer. These cancers have different prognoses and require different treatments because they respond in different ways.

Despite the excellent advances that have been made, some breast cancers eventually become resistant to treatment. In addition, hemotherapeutic agents (such as doxorubicin) and other agents (such as the antibody, trastuzumab), may be accompanied by unacceptable side effects.

We are conducting experiments on breast cancer and heart cells in a laboratory to find ways of increasing the effectiveness whilst minimising the side effects of currently available treatments for Her-2 positive breast cancer. Our preliminary results need to be confirmed before we are able to test these simple strategies in mice. We are optimistic that our final results will help to improve our understanding of the treatment of breast cancer, and ultimately to improve survival in breast cancer patients.

Non-scientific report:

We have conducted experiments on breast cancer cells in the laboratory to ascertain whether commonly used treatments for breast cancer may be improved.

We have identified some promising agents that are able to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and which may therefore possibly be used to increase the effectiveness of current breast cancer treatments. How these agents work in breast cancer requires further clarification.

In addition, we have successfully grown heart cells from mice in our laboratory, which will enable us to find out whether any of our agents are toxic to the heart, or whether they may in fact decrease the cardiac side effects of existing breast cancer treatments.

We are optimistic therefore, that these studies will help to find ways to improve the treatment of breast cancer.


  • Taljaard R, Bester MJ, Outhoff K. The in-vitro determination of the cardiotoxicity of an anthracycline antibiotic, and two Her-2/erbB-2 antibodies. Presented at 5th African Congress of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology (ACP 2012), Accra, Ghana 11-13 July 2012. [Download: ACP Poster, ACP presentation]
  • Outhoff K, Hurrell T, Taljaard R, Cromarty AD. Aspirin may enhance the anti-proliferative effects and attenuate the cardio-toxic effects of trastuzumab in the treatment of Her-2 positive breast cancer.  Presented at University of Pretoria. [Download: ASA poster]
  • Hurrell, Tracey. Supervisor: Dr K. Outhoff. The effects of biological molecules and targeted therapeutic agents on cell cytotoxicity and Her-2 receptor expression in cultured breast adenocarcinoma models. Presented at University of Pretoria. [Download: HRG EGF Presentation]
  • R Taljaard, MJ Bester, K Outhoff. The isolation and culture of adult mouse ventricular cardiomyocytes: a new and robust technique. Presented at University of Pretoria. [Download: Isolation and culture of adult mouse ventricular cardiomyocytes poster]



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