By DESMOND STROOH
Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio
TOLEDO – Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio, an affiliate of Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, made an investment of $449,248 to fund research at The University of Toledo into new treatments for Triple Negative Breast Cancer, a form of breast cancer that is aggressive and challenging to treat.
Dr. Amit K. Tiwari, assistant professor in the UT’s College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, has identified a new chemotherapy drug that is showing promise in curing triple negative breast cancer, even in cases where patients have developed resistance to conventional chemotherapy.
“Poor prognosis in most TNBC cases is due to development of drug resistance. Once patients develop resistance to one chemotherapy, they stop responding to any other chemotherapy. Resistant TNBC results in metastasis, diminishing patient survival time to less than one year.” Tiwari said. “These new drugs are unique. Not only are they showing promise in destroying TNBC cells, but even if the disease gets to the stage of drug resistance, it is reversing the resistance and making it more sensitive to traditional chemotherapy.”
Tiwari’s findings come out of research into how chemotherapy resistance develops in TNBC, allowing the cancer to survive and spread. By targeting the cancer cells in a non-conventional way, Tiwari believes it is possible to overcome multidrug resistance and improve patient survival rates. With the grant from Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio, Tiwari and his team of researchers at The University of Toledo will be able to continue development of the new drug and push their work closer to clinical trials.
“We thank Susan G. Komen for supporting development of novel therapeutics against resistant and recurrent TNBC. It is expected that these therapies will reverse drug resistance, reduce side-effects and substantially prolong patient survival.”
This breast cancer research grant is a welcome return on the investment made by the people of Northwest Ohio through registrations and donations to Komen Northwest Ohio.
“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in Ohio, both on the ground and through research,” said Mary Westphal, executive director of Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio. “As we celebrate 25 years of impact in Northwest Ohio, we are so pleased this grant has been awarded to our partners at the University of Toledo.”
Since 1994, Komen Northwest Ohio has funded more than $13 million to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing nearly $4 million to Komen breast cancer research. This research grant brings Komen’s total research investment in Ohio to $14,122,590 since 1982.
Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide Network of Affiliates, which directs a portion of funds raised locally to Komen’s national research program, while also investing in vital community programs that serve local women and men facing breast cancer.
“The University of Toledo is a long-standing partner of Komen Northwest Ohio, receiving funding to support community health programming and advance scientific research for a number of years,” UT Vice President for Research Frank Calzonetti said. “Dr. Tiwari’s efforts to develop new treatments for the most aggressive form of breast cancer is the latest example of how our talented faculty experts are advancing knowledge that impacts our community.”
Komen’s National Research Investments
The grant to the University of Toledo comes as part of Susan G. Komen’s investment of nearly $26 million to fund 62 new research projects across the country that seek to answer some of the toughest questions facing breast cancer. This new funding is part of the organization’s efforts to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026 and brings its total research investment to $988 million to date – the largest nonprofit investment outside the U.S. government.
“This year, Komen is investing in a number of areas that will help us achieve our bold goal and save lives. We are seeking answers to why our current drugs work for some patients, but not all, or why they work at first, but later become ineffective.” said Komen Chief Scientific Advisor, George Sledge, M.D., Chief of Oncology at Stanford University Department of Medicine. “We are also looking into aggressive forms of the disease like triple negative and inflammatory breast cancer, which tend to have poorer outcomes. By investigating novel techniques and therapies, we hope to bring new treatment options to patients.”
The newly announced grants will investigate critical areas in breast cancer research, including (but not limited to) projects focused on one or more of the following:
- Drug Resistance and Metastasis (40 grants, representing 70 percent of the grants awarded)
- Triple Negative Breast Cancer (23 grants)
- New Treatments (38 grants) such as Immunotherapies (9 grants)
- Health Disparities (8 grants)
This year, Komen’s competitive grant program for young investigators was entirely focused on drug resistance and metastatic disease. “Komen continues its long-standing investment in the next generation of scientists, to ensure that brilliant researchers whose careers are just beginning have funding to pursue their novel ideas,” said Komen Chief Scientific Advisor, Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research and Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “We are proud that this investment includes opportunities for 23 innovative and inspired researchers to lead the way in making breast cancer discoveries that will improve care for all and help save lives.”
Research has been a cornerstone of Komen’s work since opening its doors in 1982. Komen also works to inspire action through advocacy and public policy, to mobilize communities through support services and opportunities to make a local impact, and provide the care that patients need (including screening, diagnostics, treatment and navigation).
“More than 41,000 women and men will lose their lives to breast cancer this year alone. I lost my mother to the disease a few years back, and I myself have been treated for aggressive triple negative breast cancer. The idea that it could impact my daughters is unacceptable,” said Komen President and CEO Paula Schneider. “We all have a personal reason or passion that we support the fight against breast cancer, and we’re proud to invite people to support the work that means the most to them. It will take all of us working together to save lives and ultimately end this disease.”
Desmond Strooh is marketing and communications manager for Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio, 3100 W. Central Ave, Suite 235, Toledo, komennwohio.org.