METAvivor Research and Support Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to funding research for Stage IV metastatic breast cancer (MBC), announces seven grant awards totaling $560,000. These research grants will enhance the understanding of metastatic breast cancer, and help develop greatly needed therapeutic options to combat this complicated disease.
Metastatic breast cancer (also known as Stage IV or advanced stage cancer) is the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body -- most commonly to the bones, liver, lungs and/or brain. Approximately 30% of breast cancer patients metastasize, and 97 – 98% die as a result, with the average survival after diagnosis being two to three years. In the US, only 2-3% of all cancer research funds are dedicated to Stage IV cancer research – yet 100% of all breast cancer deaths are caused by a metastasis.
This is the seventh annual grant cycle funded by METAvivor. Including this year's grants, METAvivor has awarded a total of 33 grants to career metastases researchers to study innovative models and treatments focusing on the already-metastasized patient. Since its founding in 2009, METAvivor has put 100% of donations into its peer-reviewed research grant program.
Dian "CJ" Corneliussen-James, co-founder and President of METAvivor, said, "METAvivor was founded by a community of people with Stage IV breast cancer who understood that research for metastatic breast cancer was woefully underfunded. In 2010, we awarded one grant of $55,000 and since then, we have funded over $2.4 million in research grants. In 2017, we anticipate giving $1 million in grants, and doubling that amount in 2018 as part of Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot Initiative. We would like to thank our donors, research partners and sponsors, all of whom continue to help METAvivor reach new goals in metastatic breast cancer research."
This year, METAvivor is pleased to award three grants named for our $100,000 platinum donors. The Parker-Quinn METSquerade Award, The Mary Gooze Award and the Pfizer "Story Half Told" Award. Dr. Arti Santhanam, Director of Research for METAvivor said, "We are honored to have been selected as a recipient of these generous donations. The generosity and continued commitment of our donors will help make a difference in the lives of patients suffering from breast cancer metastasis. In addition, their generous support will also move the entire field of metastasis research closer to our mission-- to extend the lives of people with MBC, and to transform metastatic breast cancer into a chronic, manageable disease.
The METAvivor 2016 grant recipients are:
Paula Bos, PhD (Virginia Commonwealth University) has published a well-received lung study demonstrating that inhibition of T-Reg cells can significantly improve metastasis-free survival. In this proposal, she is seeking to expand this work for brain metastasis.
Ian Corbin, PhD (University of Texas Southwestern) will research an innovative therapy using DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is known to be toxic to tumors. Using a combination of DHA and LDL (cholesterol) in a nanoparticle, Dr. Corbin will test approaches to improve direct targeting and the inhibition of liver metastasis without damaging surrounding tissue.
Kathleen Gallo, PhD (Michigan State University) is developing a small molecule inhibitor of the kinase MLK3, an important therapeutic target in metastases originating from triple negative breast cancer. The molecule has previously been shown to be safe in clinical trials. Positive results from this study will accelerate bringing this therapy to clinical trials.
Todd Giorgio, PhD (Vanderbilt University) proposes using mechanical focused ultrasound (mFUS) combined with an immunostimulant (CpG) to activate the immune system to fight metastasis. The mFUS is known to trigger inflammation in the target microenvironment, while CpG is known to create specific anti-tumor immunity. Together, they may be an effective, localized treatment for metastasis that does not significantly impact healthy tissue.
Kathryn Schwertfeger, PhD (University of Minnesota) will investigate a combination therapy using machrophages to promote T cell recruitment into the metastatic site, along with a small molecule inhibitor to Stat3 that will enhance the tumor killing ability of those T cells.
Patricia Sheean PhD RD (Loyola University Chicago) will study the role of skeletal muscle mass on the survival and quality of life in ER- women with MBC. She and hear team will examine the medical records of 55 patients to determine if there is a relationship between low levels of skeletal muscle and treatment tolerance and prognosis.
Brad St. Croix, PhD (NCI) has identified an antibody-drug conjugate that uniquely targets the tumor microenvironment to deliver immune checkpoint inhibitors to the metastatic tumor. Targeting the microenvironment instead of the tumor is a novel approach to treat established tumors and also prevent the secondary spread of the tumors.
METAvivor Research and Support Inc. is an Annapolis-based, 501(c)(3), volunteer-led, non-profit organization founded by metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients in 2009. Our main focus is to fund critical research that will lead to advances in treatment options, quality of life and survival for patients diagnosed with MBC. Since 2009, METAvivor awarded 33 research grants totaling over $2.4 million. METAvivor is the only national organization with a peer-reviewed grant program aimed at exclusively funding MBC research, and 100% of all donations go to fund research.
METAvivor also raises awareness of MBC, provides support for people living with this disease, and offers opportunities for others to help make a difference for the metastatic community. METAvivor has gained a rapidly growing following within the breast cancer community, and has become a leader in its field.