Research projects

Research projects in Auburn receive financial boost from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama

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Research projects throughout Alabama, including three at Auburn University, will receive more than $1.2 million in funding from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama.

Using money from donations, government and specialty license plate sales, the foundation will administer grants to 20 breast cancer research projects at Auburn, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Southern Alabama, University of Alabama, CerFlux, Southern Research, and HudsonAlpha. Institute of Biotechnology.

“As the largest Alabama-based funder of breast cancer research statewide, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama has seen the undeniable power of research to accelerate treatment advances and outcomes. for patients facing the disease,” said Beth Bradner Davis, executive director of the foundation. “We are proud that this historic investment, the largest ever, will continue to fuel breakthroughs and advance our mission to save lives. »

Foundation dollars often function as “seed” funding for study development, allowing researchers to generate the data needed to attract significant domestic funding. Many foundation-funded projects went on to receive national grants from the National Institute of Health and others.

Projects receiving foundation funding in Auburn include:

Integrating bioengineering tools, genome-wide genetic screens, and in vivo models to uncover novel determinants of triple-negative breast cancer cell invasion

Panagiotis Mistriotis, an assistant professor in the department of chemical engineering at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, is the principal investigator on the project along with assistant professor Amit Mitra and professor Robert Arnold in the department of drug discovery and development at the Harrison School of Pharmacy.

The objective is to identify new determinants associated with the migration and metastatic potential of triple-negative human breast cancer cells. Mistriotis has developed a microfluidic platform that can be used as a capillary bed mimetic that can be used to better understand the effect of various physico-chemical and mechanical stresses on the metastatic potential of tumor cells. Using this system, he showed that pressure differences influence the migration of triple-negative breast cancers.

Mitra will seek to apply omics-based approaches to identify the molecular mechanisms responsible for this observation, and Arnold will study its effect on metastatic spread using an established in vivo model.

Improving Breast Cancer Survival in Alabama—The Role of Drugs

Jingjing Qian, associate professor in the Department of Health Outcomes Research and Policy at Pharmacy, says evidence has shown that a few drugs, including selective estrogen receptor modulators, such as tamoxifen and raloxifene, and aromatase inhibitors, such as anastrozole and exemestane, may help reduce breast cancer risk, especially for high-risk women.

However, potential disparities in the use of these drug treatments exist between women in Alabam and women in other geographic regions. This study analyzes existing data to understand if and how the use of these drug treatments might impact the overall survival of women with breast cancer in Alabama.

A new β-catenin blocker that activates antitumor immunity for breast cancer

Gary Piazza, head of the Department of Drug Discovery and Development and Professor WW Walker, collaborates with Don Buchsbaum, professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, or UAB, and principal investigator at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center in the ‘UAB. , on this project.

The funding will establish a new research collaboration between Auburn and UAB to determine the efficacy of an investigational anticancer compound, ADT-030, for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer using a mouse model. highly aggressive metastasis.

ADT-030 acts through a novel mechanism to inhibit an enzyme, phosphodiesterase 10A, which drives Wnt/β-catenin transcription of proteins essential for cancer cell proliferation and survival. Research will also determine whether ADT-030 can activate antitumor immunity mechanisms to enhance or expand chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

Colleagues from Auburn’s Department of Drug Discovery and Development assist Piazza and Buchsbaum as co-principal investigators: Yulia Maxuitenko, associate research professor; Adam Keeton, assistant research professor; and Xi Chen, Assistant Research Professor; as well as Jeremy Foote, assistant professor of microbiology at UAB.

“By funding critical early-stage projects, the Alabama Breast Cancer Research Foundation is driving local discoveries that have a critical impact on the prevention, detection, and treatment of breast cancer. in the state of Alabama and beyond,” said Dr. Barry P. Sleckman, director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB.

This year’s grants bring the foundation’s lifetime investment to more than $12 million since 1996.