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Woman’s Cancer Association chooses Cancer Research Grants

Heidi Hewes Chapter of the WCAEvery so often I write about The Miami Shores Heidi Hewes Chapter of the Womans Cancer Association of The University of Miami. I have explained how Im co-president and how this small organization does an amazing job of involving the community and raising funds that go directly to cancer research.

I have mentioned the different events we are involved in:

But now I have to tell you about the most important achievement of the year. The Miami Shores Heidi Hewes Chapter, together with 3 other chapters around Miami, make up the WCA. The money raised by all chapters is given as grants to fund cancer research projects.

I am often asked what the money raised is used for and decided to give you the exact information of the awarded grants:

  • Nandor Garamszegi PhD & Sean P. Scully, MD, PhDSarcoma Biology Laboratory – Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. Sylvester CCC. – $100,000 were granted to research The Role of Tissue Degradation in Invasion and Metastasis of Osteosarcoma metastases.

The Miami Country Day Walk for Cancer, was dedicated to a senior by the name of Harry Greenberg who was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma shortly before the walk. Harry Greenberg is a young man that inspires many people today because of his bravery and determination. Not only did Harry serve in the Walk for Cancer in prior years, but he also pushed and encouraged his classmates and loved ones and with his help, Miami Country Day raised almost $100,000 for cancer research.

The WCA was proud to grant $100,000 to go directly to the research of Osteosarcoma. Harry Greenbergs fight against cancer will not go unheard and will help so many others that face the same disease. Thanks Harry! Your courage is humbling and you are an inspiration to many.

Harry Greenberg's fight against cancer

  • Julio Barredo, M.D. – Director of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology was given $50,000 for: a Novel Combination Targeted Treatments Strategy for Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) – ALL is the most common cancer in children and adolescents, and the leading cause of cancer-related death in children. MTX is a universal component of anticancer therapies for ALL and it has been demonstrated that patients whose cancer cells accumulate higher levels of this drug have a better chances for a cure. The activation of MTX inside leukemia cells is mediated by the enzyme FPGS and consequently cancer cells with higher levels of FPGS are more sensitive to these drugs.
  • Patricia Cantwell, MDWCA Pediatric Bereavement. $22,500 to continue the funding for the established WCA Pediatric Bereavement fund. This program serves to enhance the welfare of pediatric cancer patients and their families who will encounter a catastrophic medical encounter. The Bereavement teams mission is to assist and guide parents and families throughout the grieving process. In 2007, WCA awarded the team $26,800 in order to convert an existing waiting room into a Family Resource Center. This facility will be complete in 3 months.
  • Steve E. Lipshultz, M.D. – Department of Pediatrics – $50,000 – Reduction of Doxorubicin (a drug widely used in cancer chemotherapy) – This study will determine (1) whether there is less toxicity and late effects based on using dexrazoxane before doxorubicin childhood leukemia chemotherapy. (2) Whether this is related to reduction of doxorubicin-related DNA mutations n the heart mulcles energy system and (3) Whether this is more of an issue in children who carry the hemochromatosis gene that results in more iron-doxorubicin free radical damage. If this study is successful, Dr. Lipshultz will be able to design future studies to protect the mitochondria from damage during doxorubicin therapy in children with leukemia.
  • Teresa Zimmers, PhDDepartment of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, Sylvester CCC – $50,000 – Tumor growth and metastasis in many cancers depends upon the ability of the tumor to elicit a new blood supply. Lab reports have discovered a protein now known as GDF-2 (also known as BMP-9) was absent in mice that show profound abnormalities in blood vessels development. In this study of established breast, Ovarian, and cervical cancer cells with lab mice our research will analyze the absence or present protein GDF-2. This research team proposes to answer questions of administering excess GDF-2 protein if it will inhibit tumor growth.
  • Kavitha Ramachandran, PhD & Dr. Rakesh Singal, MD Sylvester CCC – $50,000 – Reversal of effect of DNA Methylation in Pancreatic Cancer – Each year, more than 33,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed in teh US and about 33,000 pancreatic cancer patients die due to the disease. Pancreatic cancer is characterized by poor prognosis due to resistance to conventional chemotherapeutic agents. One of the possible mechanisms of drug resistance includes epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor and pro-apoptotic genes. The proposed study aims at up-regulating epigenetically silenced genes using 5-Azacytidine in order to increase sensitivity to gemcitabine chemotherapy **the result of this pilot pre-clinical study may be useful in designing clinical studies for treatment of pancreatic cancer patients who resiting gemcitabine or who show disease progression after an initial response to gemcitabine chemotherapy.

For all those people that donate and volunteer, please know that your efforts do make a difference and I am honored to be part of such an amazing organization.  Feel free to donate to the WCA using this badge and enter ‘Heidi Hewes Chapter’ under description.

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