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WBCS to Fund Three Breast Cancer Researchers

June 6, 2013

MCW and Blood Research Institute projects will study disease progression, therapies

Two researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and an investigator at BloodCenter of Wisconsin’s Blood Research Institute, have received one-year, $50,000 grants from WBCS, Inc., to study breast cancer.

The recipients of the grants are Yan-Qing Ma, PhD, an investigator at BloodCenter of Wisconsin’s Blood Research Institute and assistant professor of biochemistry at MCW; Qing Miao, PhD, assistant professor of pediatric surgery and pediatric pathology and an investigator at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Research Institute; and Haris Vikis, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology.

Dr. Ma’s project will seek to learn more about a specific type of molecule called kindlin, which is highly expressed in aggressive breast cancer cells. Dr. Ma believes this work will significantly advance understanding of the way breast cancers grow, and could lead to a novel therapy to treat breast cancer.

“I’m extremely grateful for the community support to advance this critical research,” said Dr. Ma. “It is from today’s basic research that discoveries will come, leading to improved treatments, and cures, tomorrow.”

Dr. Miao will evaluate a possible new therapeutic target for breast cancer called Nogo-B. Nogo-B promotes the initiation and progression of breast cancer, but the exact molecular mechanism governing this process is unknown. In this research project, Dr. Miao will seek to determine the specific role of Nogo-B receptor, and those findings could lead to the design of new treatments to improve the effectiveness of breast cancer therapy.

Dr. Vikis’ research interest is in neutrophils, which are specialized blood cells that normally play a role in fighting infection, but have recently been shown to inhibit the spread of cancer cells from the breast to the lungs. In this study, Dr. Vikis’ team will evaluate a substance produced by neutrophils called myeloperoxidase that is hypothesized to be responsible for halting the spread of metastatic disease.

“It is important to have groups like WBCS in our community, providing researchers more opportunities to conduct research and also stimulating interest in breast cancer research,” said Dr. Vikis. “Funding these types of projects is key in advancing new therapies to combat this disease.”

WBCS is a volunteer organization that raises money for breast cancer and prostate cancer research at the MCW Cancer Center. Since 1998, WBCS has contributed $4.75 million to those efforts. The organization’s, Showhouse for a Cure, features a private home redecorated by local interior designers that is opened for donors and guests to tour. Other annual fundraisers include a survivors’ fashion show and luncheon, a preview party, a golf outing, and a winter gala. A 5K run /2K walk event was added in 2012.

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