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IU Simon Cancer Center physician receives funding for rare, aggressive breast cancer research

  

INDIANAPOLIS -- (Aug. 10, 2010) -- Women with a relatively rare but aggressive form of breast cancer may benefit from a unique tissue bank of normal breast tissue at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

Bryan Schneider, M.D., and doctoral student Milan Radovich will study the underlying molecular underpinning of inflammatory breast cancer using cutting edge technology called Next Generation Sequencing with the support of a $50,000 grant from the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Milburn Foundation partnership. This work will capitalize on the ability to compare genetic abnormalities against normal breast tissue.

“To identify the critical molecular changes that distinguish normal from malignant, and to detect the earliest indication of the transformation, researchers must be able to study normal breast cells,” Dr. Schneider, the recipient of the IBC grant, said.

 “Since 2005, hundreds of women have donated tissue to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank ® at the IU Simon Cancer Center to make it possible for researchers to identify abnormalities in cells. We are hopeful that the information contained in the bank will direct scientists to cures for the many forms of breast cancer.” Dr. Schneider is an assistant professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine and a physician / researcher at the IU Simon Cancer Center.

The Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center is the largest and possibly only bank of normal breast tissue, blood and DNA in the nation.  

Dr. Schneider and colleagues hope to identify novel drug targets for inflammatory breast cancer, which typically affects the skin. Unlike other forms of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer frequently does not develop masses or tumors within the breast which makes detection by mammograms or ultrasound technology difficult. Frequently inflammatory breast cancer is misdiagnosed as mastitis, a benign breast infection.

Even though this form of breast cancer only accounts for 1 percent to 5 percent of breast cancer cases in the United States, it contributes to a high percentage of breast cancer mortality. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa but disproportionately affects African American and younger women in the United States. Few targeted therapies have been developed which contributes to the relatively low survival rate of 40 percent to 45 percent.

The study of inflammatory breast cancer and its aggressive, metastatic nature are essential to improve diagnosis, treatment and survival, according to Dr. Schneider.

“It is our goal to provide new and advancing information about inflammatory breast cancer,” Dr. Schneider said. “In the past we have had to react. We hope this research will inform us on ways to take proactive measures and provide insight on fundamental weaknesses in the disease that may be exploited for successful therapeutics.”

The grant will allow Dr. Schneider and his New York University colleague Robert Schneider, Ph.D., to collect and compare normal breast tissue from the Komen Tissue Bank with other forms of aggressive breast cancer and inflammatory breast cancer. 

The Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation is committed to facilitating research and raising awareness of inflammatory breast cancer. The Milburn Foundation, a private charitable foundation, was created to support leaders who are making a difference in the fight against critical health-care challenges.