Grant Helps Fund Groundbreaking Breast Cancer Research

A naturally-occurring virus has been discovered, which successfully kills breast cancer cells in Dr. Craig Meyers’ laboratory at the Penn State College of Medicine.  “It appears that this virus is signaling the cells to turn on themselves and basically commit suicide,” Dr. Meyers says.  “And this virus is inducing it only in the cancer cells, but not in the normal cells.”   

In 2007, the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) provided Dr. Meyers’ team with $35,000 dollars in seed money.  “We were ecstatic to know that money was put to such good use, and at the same time, to know that we had a hand in it,” says Kevin Smith with the PBCC.  At this week’s 2011 PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference, Dr. Meyers was presented with a new, $100,000 dollar grant to help continue his research.  Smith calls it the largest single contribution in the PBCC’s 18-year history. 

The adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) is yielding promising results, but it is not yet to the stage of being tested on humans.  “So far in mice, our results in mice are looking really good,” says Dr. Meyers.  “The tumors we’ve made in mice are really just dissolving when we put this virus in.”  Meyers knows there’s much additional research to be done, but the early results are so promising that he says they can’t move fast enough. 

Smith says it’s amazing to have this kind of research underway in the Keystone State.  He says it shows that research dollars do matter.  “Even with the economy the way it is, we need to continue the research, because that is how we are going to find a cure.”  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

First Lady Helps Turn Capitol Fountain Pink


First Lady Susan Corbett

First Lady Suan Corbett

Pink is the Color of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the pink fountain is a visual reminder of the importance of mammograms and early detection.  “When you see the pink fountain outside, I hope you all remember that we can beat this disease if we take the time to have that early screening,” says First Lady Susan Corbett, who shared her own mother’s breast cancer survival story.  “So I’m going to ask each of you to be that person who takes someone by the hand and encourages them to have a mammogram.” 

The numbers drive home Mrs. Corbett’s point that early detection is the best way to fight the disease.  “When breast cancer is found at its earliest stages – which it can be with a mammogram – the survival rate is 95 – 98%,” PA Breast Cancer Coalition executive director Heather Hibshman explained in an interview with Radio PA. 

Every day 32 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Pennsylvania.  “It blows me away,” Hibshman says.  “Everybody seems to know somebody with breast cancer, and with numbers like that I believe it.  We need to get that number down to zero.” 

Pennsylvania is home to 140,000 breast cancer survivors who will be marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.