IU Healthy Breast Tissue Project Promises to Transform Research Worldwide
Dr. Harikrishna Nakshatri, I.U. School of Medicine
INDIANAPOLIS — Single-cell sequencing of normal breast tissue samples has the potential to revolutionize breast cancer research and can only be accomplished at Indiana University. Thanks to the Catherine Peachey Fund, a member of the Heroes Foundation family, funding is no longer an obstacle.
Coinciding with the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Catherine Peachey Fund has announced the approval of a grant proposal to award $250,000 to Dr. Harikrishna Nakshatri, Marian J. Morrison Professor of Breast Cancer Research at I.U. School of Medicine, to move his “Taxonomy of the Normal Breast” project forward.
“With a more comprehensive understanding of the normal breast, gained by investigating healthy tissue samples, we are better able to learn why breast cancer develops and determine possible ways to prevent it,” Nakshatri said.
The data derived from single-cell sequencing of healthy tissue will create an entirely new roadmap for breast cancer researchers all over the world. It will be a tool to identify the favorite pathways and patterns of breast cancer development, ultimately looking for the earliest signs of breast cancer risk and identifying precise ways to treat breast cancer. Most critically, it may help researchers identify the type of breast cell from which the cancer originated, so that targeted drug therapies can better treat breast cancer.
Nakshatri’s project is right in line with the Heroes Foundation’s commitment to advance research for a cancer cure and the Catherine Peachey Fund’s mission to promote advances in breast cancer research and treatment. Since 1994, the Catherine Peachey Fund has provided over $3 million in financial support to research and programs best positioned to move from the bench to the clinic.
“To see such incredible progress being made toward better treatments and a cure is extremely encouraging. The fact that it is happening right here in Indianapolis, with our help, is particularly exciting,” said Stephanie Rufenbarger Lesher, program manager for the Catherine Peachey Fund.
Stephanie Rufenbarger Lesher, Heroes Foundation’s Catherine Peachey Fund
“Truly healthy breast tissue was not available to researchers until the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank was established with the help of the Catherine Peachey Fund in 2007,” Nakshatri shared. “This project will create an entirely new avenue of prevention research, ultimately affecting all women. We will provide researchers across the breast cancer community with the resources to conduct experiments that might determine individualized breast cancer risk assessments or lead to new screening techniques.”
One of the most important avenues for this research into normal breast tissue lies in the genetic information found in every cell of a tissue sample. While researchers have not previously had the tools to unlock that information, there is cutting-edge genetic technology that can now sequence or lay out the information found in each individual cell.
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