Thursday, October 07, 2010
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Derek C. Radisky, Ph.D., a cancer scientist at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the V Foundation for Cancer Research. His research is aimed at improving risk prediction for breast cancer.
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and Jim Valvano, the former North Carolina State University basketball coach and broadcaster as he battled cancer. The Foundation has raised more than $100 million and its Scientific Advisory Board, comprised of top physicians and research scientists, have, to date, awarded cancer research grants to 300 investigators whom they judge to have cancer research projects with the most potential.
Dr. Radisky is one of nine scientists nationwide to be awarded a 2010 Translational Grant. "I am so pleased to be a recipient of a V Foundation award," says Dr. Radisky. "I consider it a prestigious honor."
Dr. Radisky says his project is designed to provide insight into the biological mechanisms that control a process known as lobular involution, and to understand why postmenopausal women who have not completed this process are at greater risk for breast cancer development.
The breast lobules are the structures that produce milk, but these lobules are also the primary site of breast cancer formation, he says. "As a woman ages beyond her childbearing years, her breast lobules are supposed to gradually disappear through lobular involution, reducing her cancer risk. However, this doesn't always happen," Dr. Radisky says.
By analyzing tissue samples from benign breast biopsies, Dr. Radisky and his colleagues have found that more than 40 percent of postmenopausal women have incomplete lobular involution, and that these women are at substantially greater risk for subsequently developing cancer.
His project is aimed at understanding the biology behind lobular involution by studying patient breast biopsies, half of which show normal signs of lobular involution, and half of which don't. Dr. Radisky will also study a separate panel of breast cells from women who have not undergone lobular involution; cells which already show changes that could be the beginnings of cancer.
From these experiments, Radisky will link molecular factors that control lobular involution to breast cancer risk, and, in this way, identify biomarkers that can be used for better predicting who is at greatest risk for development of breast cancer.
"This research will be crucial for better guiding women who obtain breast biopsies toward the most appropriate strategies of surveillance, risk management, and treatment," he says. "It will also point towards new physiologic strategies to reduce breast cancer incidence, such as ways to induce lobular involution in postmenopausal women for whom this process is incomplete."
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