Grassroots Efforts Help Fund Breast Cancer Research

By John Fakler

Pickups for Breast Cancer, a free pickup service provided by the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation (FBCF ) that collects household items to help fund breast cancer research has found another way to directly contribute to the battle against the disease: the FBCF has funded more than $5 million toward breast cancer research and education in the state of Florida and one of the grants awarded was a $100,000 research grant to a local researcher from funds raised through donations.

The way FBCF sees it, only through research will breast cancer be defeated. From finding improved ways to diagnose breast cancer before it reaches advanced stages to discovering new treatments for those diagnosed with the disease, the FBCF strives to continually fund innovative research that will encourage scientific breakthroughs in hopes of one day discovering a cure.

The research project that was awarded the $100,000 grant is spearheaded by Dr. Annette R. Khaled, Head of the Division of Cancer Research in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida.  The FBCF through Pick Ups For Breast Cancer and the “End Breast Cancer” Specialty License Plate Program are very happy to have been able to fund the grant for this research because of the fantastic possibility it has for breast cancer patients.

Research in the Khaled lab focuses on ways to end breast cancer. For advanced stage breast cancer patients, whose cancers have invaded vital organs, hope for a cure was limited until the discovery of immunotherapy drugs that restore the cancer-fighting ability of the body’s own immune cells. The problem is that each patient’s cancer is unique and current immunotherapy drugs don’t work for everyone. 

In the quest to better understand how cells become cancerous and spread through the body, the Khaled lab discovered a protein abundant in cancer cells, called a chaperonin, which supplies many of the proteins that cancers need to grow and spread through the body. The Khaled lab also discovered an inhibitor– a small peptide that can possibly halt or slow cancer spread– for this protein that may be delivered to cancer cells using biodegradable nanoparticles so tiny that a billion of them can fit on the head of pin. 

The chaperonin is one-of a-kind and could possibly create a necessary window for targeted treatment. The Khaled lab is working to develop and optimize the chaperonin inhibitor to eliminate cancerous cells and, at the same time, activate the body’s immune cells to kill any cancer cells that escaped initial treatments. The Khaled lab is testing this “two-hit” approach in animal models that mimic the human cancer as well as with breast cancer patient tumor tissues and blood to determine when a patient’s cancer is spreading, which indicates when to treat with the chaperonin inhibitor.

Pickups for Breast Cancer collects household donations such as clothes, shoes, home décor, electronics, household items and more. Through Pickups for Breast Cancer, the FBCF has been able to fund a large portion of the more than $1 million annually that is earmarked for education research, and advocacy. 

This is why it is so valuable when Pickups for Breast Cancer receives donations that not only free your home from unwanted clutter but also fund quality programs and research centers dedicated to ending breast cancer.

The FBCF and its free pickup service, Pickups for Breast Cancer, will continue in its pursuit to end breast cancer once and for all.

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