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Baylor College of Medicine News

Baylor receives $960,000 plus in Komen breast cancer grants

Four Baylor College of Medicine researchers received more than $960,000 in new grant funding from Susan G. Komen for the Cure to advance breast cancer research.

Recipients were:

Dr. Sao Jiralerspong, assistant professor in the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at BCM. Jiralerspong received $450,000 to explore in the laboratory the potential of metformin, a diabetes drug, to reduce the threat that ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) will spread and advance to a more invasive type of breast cancer. DCIS starts inside the milk ducts but has not spread beyond the milk ducts to any normal surrounding breast tissue. It is the precursor to full invasive breast cancer, said Jiralerspong. “New systemic therapies are needed to treatDCIS following breast surgery.”

Dr. Melissa Bondy, professor of pediatrics in the section of hematology and oncology, and a member of the NCI-designated Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center and the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at BCM. She received $225,000 to test a new method for assessing breast cancer risk using copy number variation. Copy number variation involves structural changes in the human genome that result in the deletion of genes or parts of them or extra copies of genes. Bondy will look specifically at classifying risk into multiple risk-level groups for disease separately for luminal and triple negative early breast cancers. Additionally, Bondy and team will analyze the variation in genomic structures of tumors in different racial/ethnic groups.Bondy is also a BCM McNair Scholar in breast cancer.

Dr. Jeffrey Rosen, the C.C. Bell Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a member of the Duncan Cancer Center at BCM. Rosen received $225,000 to study Plk2 function in mammary gland development and breast cancer.Plk2 (polo-like kinase 2) is a gene that has been identified as a potential tumor suppressor that appears lost in triple negative cancers. Rosen and colleagues will hope to glean information that will provide new potential therapeutic targets to restore Plk2 function.

Dr. Bert O’Malley, professor and chair of molecular and cellular biology and vice chair of basic science at the Duncan Cancer Center at BCM. He received a $62,500 grant to study SRC-3 (a protein previously identified as being upregulated in invasive DCIS in comparison to non-invasive DCIS and normal breast cells) and its potential role in DCIS’ progression from a non-invasive to invasive cancer.

In May 2012, BCM received a prestigious Komen Promise Grant. Led by O'Malley and Duncan Cancer Center director Dr. Kent Osborne, the grant is ongoing.