November 7, 2013

Breast SPORE lands NCI renewal

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s Breast Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) has been awarded a third round of funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s Breast Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) has been awarded a third round of funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The SPORE grant renewal will provide more than $11.3 million in funding support over the next five years for breast cancer research.

“It is becoming uncommon for a cancer center to receive three straight rounds of funding for a SPORE program, so we are delighted and gratified by this award,” said Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D., professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology, Donna S. Hall Professor of Breast Cancer Research, associate director for Clinical Research and director of the Breast Cancer Program and the Breast SPORE at VICC.

Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D.

“The SPORE grants are rigorously evaluated and scored by a peer-review process of NCI. We are proud that investigators from peer institutions recognized our breast research program for excellence and approved another five-year award.”

The NCI — a division of the National Institutes of Health — created the SPORE program in 1992 to support “translational” research that is designed to move knowledge from the laboratory to the clinic and/or back to the laboratory. During the previous 10 years of SPORE awards, VICC’s breast research program has received more than $23.6 million through this federal grant initiative. The VICC investigators have been highly productive, publishing numerous research papers in high-impact journals and advancing scientific knowledge that has contributed to progress in breast cancer.

VICC’s breast cancer investigators decided to focus on four areas of interest supported by the new round of funding:

• Studying the effects of inhibiting the PI3 kinase, a protein found in many forms of cancer, to counteract therapy resistance which develops in patients treated with antiestrogen therapies.

• Creating strategies to improve outcomes for patients with triple negative breast cancer by focusing on genomic differences in subtypes of the disease and targeting therapies to those subtypes.

• Developing inhibitors of MCL-1 for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer. MCL-1 is an anti-death gene that enhances breast cancer cell survival.

• Identifying metabolic biomarkers for obesity and determining potential links to breast cancer risk that can be targeted with personalized prevention strategies.

“We are so pleased that the NCI has recognized this multidisciplinary team of investigators conducting basic, clinical and population-based research in breast cancer,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., director of VICC and B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology.

“In addition to our basic science and clinical investigators, this research effort also includes invaluable contributions from our partners in the Pathology and Tissue Informatics, Biostatistics and Imaging Shared Resources at Vanderbilt.”

Each of the SPORE projects also includes a patient advocate who ensures that the patient perspective is included in the research protocol.

“The work by our Breast SPORE investigators promises to have a major impact on the care of women with breast cancer in the coming years,” said Nancy Brown, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine.

The objective for all SPOREs is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality, and to improve survival and quality of life for cancer patients.

Information about VICC’s Breast SPORE grant (P50 CA098131) and GI SPORE grant (P50 CA095103) is available at