How San Diego Institutions Are Making an Impact on Breast Cancer

1-in-8 women are expected to face a breast cancer diagnosis in her lifetime. Padres Pedal the Cause is proud to raise funds for our beneficiaries, where groundbreaking breast cancer research projects are taking place each day. In the past five years, Padres Pedal has raised $7.1 million, with 100% of that money going directly to fund vital cancer research. The funds we’ve raised have helped support five innovative breast cancer research projects to help make a significant impact in the fight against breast cancer. Let’s take a closer look at the research Padres Pedal has been able to fund as well as the progress made by our beneficiaries to help learn more about how to end breast cancer and save more lives.

The University of California San Diego Health Moores Cancer Center

At UC San Diego Health, the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Diego, Moores Cancer Center is making great strides in breast cancer research. Because Moores Cancer Center sees the toughest cancer cases, each case is approached with a multidisciplinary team to set the standard of care. When it comes to research, Moores Cancer Center’s state-of-the-art facility is at the forefront of innovative cancer research and clinical trials. The dedicated breast cancer clinical research team ensures that they stay current on the latest research that is uncovering innovative ways to identify and treat the many different forms of breast cancer.

The breast cancer experts at Moores Cancer Center conduct cutting-edge research as well, running a variety of clinical trials to help provide patients with early access to new treatments and help redefine the standard of care for treating breast cancer. Among those trials is the I-SPY 2, which seeks to advance personalized care for breast cancer based on the molecular characteristics of each patient’s tumor. The information gathered during this trial can help patients receive the right drugs at the right time, with the goal of reducing the cost and time needed to bring new drugs to the marketplace. UC San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center is one of just two centers in California offering women novel treatment through this promising trial.

Since 2013, Padres Pedal has been able to fund six collaborative breast cancer research projects and one clinical trial thus far, and UC San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center has been a part of all seven studies. From early detection via gene expression to finding new hereditary breast cancer markers to discovering new ways to halt the spread of breast cancer by inhibiting enzymes involved in metastatic spread, Padres Pedal is proud to be key investors in this exciting, life-saving breast cancer research. Working hand-in-hand with both the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, UCSD’s Moores Cancer Center’s dedicated breast cancer experts are involved in progressive research in a variety of areas. From identifying breast cancer’s causes and risk factors, to enhancing early detection, to expanding and refining treatment options the research teams at Moores Cancer Center are constantly working on ways to identify, prevent, and treat breast cancer. Because of the collaborative work they do with other experts in the field, every study gets us one step closer to a world without cancer.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

The Salk Cancer Center is one of seven basic research NCI-designated Cancer Centers in the nation, where researchers are working to demystify breast cancer and turn knowledge into cures. Researchers at the Salk Institute are charting the genetic changes that can lead mammary cells to become cancerous. By identifying weaknesses in different types of breast cancers, Salk Institute scientists are discovering new molecular targets for therapies, as well as developing and testing precision therapies ranging from groundbreaking drugs to innovative tumor-breaking viruses.

In August of this year, a team at the Salk Institute identified a master switch that appears to control the dynamic behavior of tumor cells, which is what makes some aggressive breast cancers so hard to treat. The Sox10 gene is directly responsible for controlling the growth and invasion of a significant portion of hard-to-treat triple-negative breast cancers. A recent discovery in a lab led by Padres Pedal grant recipient Geoffrey Wahl illuminated that aggressive breast cancers return to an earlier, flexible state found in fetal breast tissue. The ability of the cells to reprogram themselves may explain why cancer is able to form new cell types, evolve to resist drug treatment, and metastasize to other parts of the body. The discovery of Sox10’s role in this cellular reprogramming is a key, groundbreaking step in helping researchers understand cancer, as well as making possible new methods of diagnosis and treatment of aggressive breast cancer. In line with this research, Padres Pedal was able to fund a collaborative study conducted by Geoffrey Wahl of the Salk Institute and Michael Karin of the Moores Cancer Center. This study explored halting the spread of cancer cells, known as metastasis, by inhibiting enzymes Ubc13 and p38, which are involved in controlling metastatic spread. Studies like these can help scientists stop the spread of cancer in the body and develop new treatments for breast cancer in order to save lives. Padres Pedal is honored to help make some of these life-saving studies possible.

The Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

At Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP), another of the seven basic research NCI-designated Cancer Centers in the country, researchers are helping to lead the effort to eradicate cancer by striving to make personalized cancer medicine a reality through exceptional translational research. In order to achieve best results, the SBP Cancer Center leverages its scientific strengths via collaborations with other innovative researchers. One of those collaborations is with the Moores Cancer Center at UCSD. Elana Pasquale of SBP and Jing Yang of Moores Cancer Center are attempting to characterize two druggable candidate proteins in order to determine whether therapeutic targeting of these proteins could inhibit breast cancer invasion of normal surrounding tissue. This study, funded by Padres Pedal, could lead to new prognostic markers to help identify high-risk breast cancer patients for personalized treatment options, as well potentially resulting in new therapeutic regimens that target the problematic proteins and potentially helping to reduce metastasis.

With each research study, we get better diagnoses and more effective treatments for breast cancer. This is essential, as cancer cells are highly adaptive, which is why cancer can be so difficult to treat effectively. Another breakthrough study, run by Brooke Emerling at SBP, comes from a recently discovered alternative metabolic pathway that could be used by cancer cells to survive and adapt to lack of nutrients. By targeting enzymes PI5P4Kα and PI5P4Kβ, which are essential to the process of providing nutrients to starving cells via recycling cellular compartments, scientists hope to disrupt the process. Using enzyme inhibitors in targeted therapies would allow them to starve the tumors of nutrients they need to survive, potentially offering a therapeutic strategy that minimizes toxicity. Because a certain set of breast cancers expresses high levels of PI5P4Kα and PI5P4Kβ, Emerling’s lab is now focused on determining the role of adaptive PI5P4K enzymes in p53-deficient cancers like triple-negative breast cancers, with the hope that PI5P4K inhibitors could effectively treat them.

Padres Pedal the Cause Helps Fund Life-Saving Breast Cancer Research at These Institutions

Three of Padres Pedal’s four beneficiaries conduct essential breast cancer research, leading the way in their fields and changing the face of breast cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. All three of these institutions—UC San Diego Health’s Moores Cancer Center, The Salk Institute, and the Sanford Burnham Medical Discovery Institute—have been recipients of funds for collaborative breast cancer research projects, and this research will continue to bring us closer to a world without breast cancer.

Padres Pedal was able to raise and donate over $2.4 million last year, for a total of $7.1 million raised since 2013, and we hope to be able to raise even more in 2018. Every single dollar raised by Padres Pedal the Cause goes directly to our local beneficiaries, helping to fund groundbreaking research like the breast cancer studies you read about above. With your help, we can raise even more. Whether you ride, run, spin, play, donate, or volunteer, find out more about how you can be a part of this incredible event. Join our cause and discover what it’s like to be a part of a community of cancer fighters working together to end cancer.



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