Miami-Dade County

Sylvester Cancer Center at UM gets $450,000 grant for breast cancer research

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center herald

Breast cancer research in Miami just got a cash infusion to the tune of nearly half a million dollars.

Susan G. Komen granted $450,000 to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University Of Miami Miller School of Medicine, its 20th grant from the foundation since 2000.

Barry Hudson is the lead researcher for the newest grant, which will be used to investigate the protein RAGE — a receptor present on the surface of normal cells which can get switched on by inflammation — and its role in cancerous cells.

“In a normal sort of cell you don’t see very much of this protein,” he said. “When you have a chronic inflammatory state, such as what’s present in cancer, you see a lot more of it.”

The research team will use mice to test a drug that inhibits RAGE and see how the drug changes the progression of breast cancer.

Hudson said the protein seems to have a role in normal cells as well as cancerous cells. If the research proves correct, he said the drug could potentially stop the normal cells that help cancer cells grow as well as slow the aggressive growth of cancerous cells.

Ideally, the drug would serve as an alternative or addition to chemotherapy.

“It allows us to really explore this work and take it forward to affect the lives of people with breast cancer,” Hudson said.

Funding for the grant comes from Komen affiliates throughout the nation, said Cheryl Stopnick, interim marketing and public relations for the Miami affiliate. The affiliates pool 25 percent of their net proceeds to the grant fund.

“It’s exciting for us because we help contribute money for the research,” she said.

The Sylvester research team has already begun work since they pitched the idea to Komen in 2014, and they expect to present the first paper on their findings at the end of the year.

Alex Harris on Twitter at @harrisalexc