Susan G. Komen, the world's leading breast cancer organization, today announced $26 million in funding for new research projects that focus on metastatic breast cancer, developing new, more-effective treatments, and addressing disparities in breast cancer outcomes.
This year's grant slate focuses on key areas that will help the organization achieve its Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026.
“In order to save more lives, we must address the main cause of breast cancer deaths: metastatic breast cancer,” said George Sledge, Susan G. Komen's co-Chief Scientific Advisor, M.D., Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.
Komen's Investments in Tennessee
Komen's research grant program is supported in part by funds raised by the organization's nationwide network of Affiliates. Each year, Affiliates contribute at least 25 percent of local funds raised to research, while the remainder of their funds help provide vital education and real-time support to people facing breast cancer today in their communities.
Since inception in 2000, Komen Central Tennessee has funded $11,112,428 to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing $4,417,520 to Komen research.
Komen's new research in TENNESSEE includes:
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Komen Chief Scientific Advisor Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., will receive $400,000 to identify therapeutic targets for different types of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) by combining genomic data mining and molecular biology. She will also identify genomic markers that can predict sensitivity or resistance to drugs called PI3K inhibitors. Overall, this project should improve the effectiveness of targeted therapies for TNBC.
John Wilson, Ph.D., will receive $449,616 to develop a safe and effective immunotherapy for treating metastatic breast cancer. He will test and improve an immunotherapy called STING-activating nanoparticles, and combine this new technology with chemotherapy to eliminate breast cancer metastases.
“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in our 41-county service area of Tennessee and Northwest Georgia, both on the ground and through research,” said Dawn Eaton, Komen Central Tennessee CEO.
“We are pleased to be able to support research aimed at preventing breast cancers from metastasizing (spreading) and developing new, more effective treatments for metastatic disease,” added Komen's co-Chief Scientific Advisor, Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Molecular Oncology, and Professor of Biochemistry and Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
More than an estimated 154,000 women in the U.S. are living with metastatic breast cancer – the most advanced stage of breast cancer that has spread outside the breast, often to the brain, bones, liver and lungs. Currently, there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, and it is responsible for almost all the 42,000 breast cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.
Among the 60 grants Komen awarded, 38 are focused on better understanding and treating metastatic breast cancer. Grants were also given to researchers who are developing new therapies for breast cancer including aggressive subtypes such as triple negative breast cancer, investigating drug resistance, and addressing health disparities in breast cancer outcomes among specific communities.
“Breast cancer does not affect everyone equally and with the grants we're funding this year, we're moving closer to new therapies for aggressive forms of cancer, understanding why treatment doesn't work in some patients and making sure everyone has access to the care they need,” said Paula Schneider, CEO, Susan G. Komen.
Komen's 2019 portfolio includes 60 grants totaling $25,689,384. Of these:
- 38 grants totaling $17,504,384 are focused on better understanding metastasis – why it occurs and how to prevent and treat metastatic breast cancer
- 39 grants totaling $15,579,815 for catalyzing the development of new therapies for all stages of breast cancer
- 16 grants looking into novel treatments for triple negative breast cancer
- 14 grants totaling $6,298,750 investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients)
- 9 grants focused on disparities in breast cancer outcomes and
- 5 that apply big data technology (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning) to breast cancer research
*Eds Note: Numbers add to more than 60 because individual studies may be classed in more than one category.
These new funds bring Komen's total research investment in breast cancer to more than $1 billion since opening its doors in 1982, and Komen's investment in research focused on metastatic breast cancer to $210 million. Since our inception, we have funded more breast cancer research than any other non-profit outside of the U.S. government. In addition to research, Komen and its nationwide network of Affiliates serve women and men in thousands of communities. To date, more than $2.3 billion has been invested in efforts to provide critical education and real-time support to people in communities across the country.