Hutchinson Center investigators Drs. Wei Wang, Peggy Porter and Julie Gralow are recipients of one-year awards totaling more than $475,000 from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The funding organization is providing more than $22 million in support for 109 breast-cancer researchers worldwide in 2005-2006.
Wang, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Stan Riddell's Clinical Research Division lab, conducts research utilizing the body's own immune system to fight cancer. As the American Society of Clinical Oncology's 2005 Young Investigator, his project is co-sponsored by both organizations. Wang's previous research showed that protein fragments displayed on the surface of breast-tumor cells could be recognized by lymphocytes (infection-fighting white blood cells) and lead to the destruction of tumor cells without harm to normal cells. The grant allows Wang to further study this interaction between tumor cells and the immune system in breast-cancer patients and may lead to future therapies using patients' own lymphocytes to treat cancer.
Porter, who heads the Hutchinson Center/University of Washington Cancer Consortium's Breast Cancer Research Program, is collaborating with Gralow, associate head of the same program and director of the Hutchinson Center/UW's Breast Cancer Research Institute, to find ways of improving breast-cancer treatments. The pair, working with the Breast Committee and the statistical group of the Southwest Oncology Group, will study tissue samples from tumors of breast-cancer patients who were previously treated with chemotherapy agents called anti-tubules. These drugs paralyze the "microtubules" that cause cells to divide and multiply. The researchers hope to determine if there is a microtubule pattern that could predict for response or resistance to these drugs.
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, formed in 1993, seeks to prevent and cure breast cancer in our lifetime by providing critical funding for innovative clinical and genetic research at leading medical centers worldwide and increasing public awareness about good breast health. Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $115 million to support clinical research.