Monday, October 27, 2014

Breast Cancer Research Foundation awards prestigious grant to two Loyola investigators

Organization names Loyola researchers among world's leading scientists


MAYWOOD, Ill. (October 23, 2014) The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) has awarded a grant to Kathy Albain, MD, FACP, and Clodia Osipo, PhD, to further their research at Loyola University Health System's Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. Drs. Albain and Osipo received $250,000 for being among the world's leading breast cancer scientists who are accelerating breakthroughs, improving outcomes and saving lives.

Dr. Albain, a medical oncologist, and Dr. Osipo, a basic science researcher, are co-leaders of Loyola's Breast Cancer Research Program. Their research involves a novel therapeutic approach to treat breast cancer.

Existing cancer drugs are effective in killing mature cancer cells. But cancer stem cells, present in very small amounts in breast cancers, are resistant to such drugs. They survive and go on to develop into new tumor cells, resulting in cancer growth, and spread to other parts of the body. A pilot study by Drs. Albain and Osipo found that an experimental drug known as a "Notch inhibitor" appears to block this process and prevent the survival and spread of drug-resistant breast cancer stem cells.

BCRF will award $47 million this year to 222 leading researchers at medical institutions across six continents. Grantees are selected through a highly competitive review process and then are given the creative and intellectual freedom to pursue what they believe to be the most promising research directions for their proposal.

Drs. Albain and Osipo, whose BCRF award was underwritten by The Housewares Charity Foundation, will use the funds to support their ongoing research involving the Notch protein. This protein is present on the surface of cancer cells. It promotes tumor growth and survival by latching on to other cells and activating various genes in the stem cells that make them resistant to common cancer drugs.

In the coming year, Drs. Albain and Osipo will focus on how the Notch protein regulates genes to cancer survival and drug resistance and the role for anti-Notch drugs to reverse this process. This research may ultimately help to predict breast cancer stem cell survival and patients who are likely to relapse as well as provide a new therapeutic option with anti-Notch drugs.


About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.