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Cancer researchers at MCI receive BCRFA funding

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama grants often act as seed funding for developing studies, allowing scientists to generate data needed to obtain major national funding.

Published Dec 20th, 2021

By Carol McPhail
cmcphail@health.southalabama.edu

Three cancer researchers at the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute have received grants from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama as part of the organization’s $1.2 million investment in state-based research in 2021.

The recipients of the three awards, totaling almost $110,000, include Robert W. Sobol, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology; Lyudmila Rachek, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology; and Santanu Dasgupta, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology at the USA College of Medicine.

BCRFA grants often act as seed funding for developing studies, allowing scientists to generate data needed to obtain major national funding.

Sobol will use a $50,000 BCRFA grant to expand his study of a new treatment combination targeting breast cancer that is resistant to therapy. The treatment combines a PARG inhibitor, a compound that keeps the enzyme PARG from enabling tumor cells to replicate, with small molecules to regulate cellular NAD+ levels. Sobol will test the combination treatment and the PARG inhibitor alone in breast cancer cell lines and normal breast cells.

“Our goal will be to expand our analysis to a large panel of breast cancer and breast normal cells, eventually allowing strategic targeting to breast cancers with this combination treatment,” he said.

Rachek and her team will use a $35,000 grant for a one-year project to elucidate the protective mechanisms of mitochondrial delivery of TAT-hOGG1 in breast cancer progression. For this, they will perform gene expression analysis in mouse breast cancer models with mitochondrial-targeted TAT-hOGG1 using RNA sequencing.

“This study has important clinical and translational significance and will provide the basis for new unconventional therapeutic approaches for treating breast cancer,” Rachek said. “This project is particularly timely given the lack of available effective therapies and prognosis for patients with advanced breast cancer. We are very grateful to the BCRFA for providing us the opportunity to continue translational research.”

Santanu Dasgupta, Ph.D., is using his BCRFA grant to investigate mitochondrial genome alterations in women suffering from triple negative breast cancer with a view to develop mitochondria-based early diagnosis and surveillance tools.

“Early detection of this lethal disease can save lives with available treatments,” Dasgupta said. “This grant will serve as the platform to generate clinically relevant data and open up avenues for comprehensive profiling of the mitochondrial genome in these women.”

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