Dear 100 Voices of Hope member,
If you were unable to attend the November hunch presentation, the IU Simon Cancer Center investigators did not disappoint. The evening at Woodland Country Club was attended by each funded investigator – Drs. Nakshatri, Badve, Radovich and Merouth – and Dr. Kathy Miller, who along with Dr. Hari Nakshatri, lead the breast cancer research program at IU. We were able to talk informally with the investigators and hear their formal project updates. The program also included the presentation of three hunches for new funding consideration.
The votes are tallied, donations counted and we have great news to announce. You and your fellow “voices” have made it possible to fund two hunches this year. Your current and past generosity – along with some frugal spending by the research teams – resulted in nearly $190,000 in funding available for 2014. After putting our heads together, we made the decision to put the funding to immediate use and have selected the hunches that received the most votes from 100 Voices of Hope participants. Below you will find the description of the winning hunches.
We want to thank you for making our sixth year a very successful one and look forward to sharing progress on these newly funded projects.
Mary Beth Gadus
HUNCH 2: Identification and targeting of master regulators of metastasis (Investigator: Sunil Badve, M.B.B.S., M.D.)
Metastasis is the principal cause of death from breast cancer, but the exact process of metastasis isn’t very well understood. However, a group of genes – metastasis suppressor genes (MSGs) – are thought to play an important role in preventing the development of metastases. In experimental models, turning off the MSGs increases the frequency and size of metastasis, and human tumors that have turned off the MSGs have a worse prognosis. Unlike some other cancer genes, the MSGs are not “mutated,” they are just turned off. But how do cancer cells turn off MSGs? That is what we hope to learn in this study. Until recently, it has been hard to study the regulators (called long non-coding RNA, or lncRNA for short) of our genes, but new technology makes this possible. First, we will use data from the Cancer Genome Atlas, a large NIH-sponsored study, including almost 1,000 breast cancer patients, to identify lncRNAs associated with metastasis. After confirming those leads in tumors from the IUSCC breast program, we will see if those same lncRNAs turn off MSGs and increase metastasis in mouse models. Finally, we will analyze the ability of a large number of FDA-approved drugs to turn the MSGs back on and prevent the development of the metastasis.
HUNCH 3: Guanabenz and its Analog for Treatment of Bone Metastasis (Investigator: Hari Nakshatri, B.V.Sc., Ph.D., Dr. Hiroki Yokota, Ph.D.)
An existing drug approved for the treatment of high blood pressure with limited side effects may have benefit for breast cancer patients. The drug – guanabenz – has been shown to kill breast cancer cells and stop the spread of breast cancer cells to bone in our laboratory. Bone pain experienced by patients with bone metastasis is largely due to bone loss and gunabenz is also shown to prevent bone degradation and promote new bone formation. This hunch proposes to validate guanabenz’s anti-cancer and bone strengthening effects in a formalized laboratory study. Our goal is to develop data to initiate clinical studies with this drug to demonstrate prevention and treatment of bone metastatis and to rebuild bones damaged by cancer.
100 Voices of Hope appoints advisory board
100 Voices of Hope has appointed an advisory board, the purpose of which is to support and plan fundraising activities, engage and expand its donor base, interface with researchers to review the status of research projects, make recommendations for the utilization of funds, and make decisions, where appropriate, to recommend reallocation of unused “hunch” monies in furtherance of the organization’s mission.
Five couples will serve as “members” of the board, exercising one vote per couple. Terms will stagger on two- and three-year terms. Inaugural members are:
- Mary Beth and Mike Gadus (3-year term)
- Janice and Scott Montross (2 years)
- Carol and Jim Phillips (2 years)
- Liz and Jim Van Tassel (2 years)
- Kim and Gary Warren (3 years)
Officers for the board were appointed, with the following individuals serving initial terms:
- Chair: Mary Beth Gadus
- Treasurer: Carol Phillips
- Secretary: Liz Van Tassel
The advisory board will convene on a quarterly basis.
External news coverage
Imagine (Fall 2009)
Indianapolis Star (Nov. 8, 2008): PDF