Metastatic Breast Cancer Research
It is our goal to raise at least $150,000 annually for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) research. Since 2015, Hope Scarves has raised over $700,000 for MBC research. Every dollar we raise for research is matched 1:1 by anonymous donors, for a total of $1.4 million. Donations are made to our MBC Research Fund in two ways:
- You can give directly to this fund and 100% goes to research.
- A portion of every dollar donated to Hope Scarves goes to research.
Current Funded Projects
Dana-Farber Cancer Center at Harvard University
Understand the mechanisms of ER loss in ER+ MBC.
Historically this has been a difficult problem to approach because metastatic biopsies from patients at the time of ER loss have not been collected. Over the past several years, our group has addressed this challenge by collecting over 500 metastatic biopsies from patients with MBC at Dana-Farber. This invaluable resource, made possible by the generosity of patients, has already driven major advancements in our understanding of ER+ MBC and suggested novel approaches to treating patients with resistant disease.
1) what are the underlying reasons that tumors lose ER 2) what are alternative therapeutic strategies to treat patients with MBC with ER lossOnce completed, this project has significant long-term potential for development of therapeutic approaches that will impact the care of patients with MBC whose tumors lose ER expression. Understanding the causes of ER loss could suggest novel therapeutic strategies that could potentially reverse or prevent ER loss. Knowledge of the pathways that continue to drive these tumors after ER loss has the potential to identify vulnerabilities. This research is the most comprehensive effort to-date aimed at profiling ER loss in MBC, with the ultimate goal of identifying the most effective therapies to combat this incredibly difficult and aggressive disease.
The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
Understand how breast cells form lethal metastases in distant organs and evade the immune system.
Most suffering and death from breast cancer occurs when the cancer cells spread through the body and form new tumors in distant vital organs. Once established, these metastatic tumors are very difficult to treat with existing therapies. Research in the Ewald Lab focuses on identifying and understanding the molecular programs driving metastasis in order to develop effective new therapies. Support from Hope Scarves in 2020 enabled them to demonstrate that different molecular programs can co-exist in the same breast tumor (“collective epithelial” vs. “hybrid EMT”), that different breast cancer cells are specialized for different functions during metastasis, and that we can identify molecular strategies to disrupt metastasis despite this complexity. Our current evidence suggests that these molecular strategies are utilized differently across the breast cancer subtypes, with estrogen receptor+ tumors being more likely to use “collective epithelial” metastasis programs and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) most likely to rely upon “hybrid EMT” programs. We also see evidence that TNBC tumors are more variable with a greater likelihood of having both programs operating at the same time. Dr. Ewald’s lab uses advanced models of TNBC metastasis and cutting-edge imaging techniques to understand the precise sequence of events that occurs when a cancer cell first arrives in an organ such as the lungs or liver until it has established a clinically significant metastasis. They are also testing the extent to which the “collective epithelial” vs. “hybrid EMT” molecular programs are successful at evading detection and elimination by the immune system. Preliminary evidence suggests that TNBC breast cancer cells have a unique mechanism of metastasis- they arrive in groups, scatter through the organ as single cells, divide many times, and then these small metastases fuse to form large metastases. We also anticipate that the immune system is particularly good at eliminating cancer cells with a “hybrid EMT” program, suggesting that, in patients, the “collective epithelial” cells are the major driver of disease outcomes. Understanding this will identify new strategies to interrupt the metastatic process and lead to new treatment options.
University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center
Increase access to MBC clinical trials for patients in Kentucky.
Hope Scarves established a Fund for Metastatic Breast Cancer Clinical Research at the UofL Health Brown Cancer Center on March 31, 2019. It has 3 goals:
- Expand the biorepository at the JGBCC specific to metastatic breast cancer to allow greater access for scientists which will in turn accelerate our understanding of this disease.
- Expand the metastatic trial portfolio to ensure the options available to breast cancer patients in the region is comprehensive and local to minimize need for travel.
- Increase patient accruals to these trials which in turn will increase the availability and support of early stage innovative trials.
To view a full summary of Hope Scarves’ impact on MBC research in previous years, click the link below:
Hope Scarves Summary of Funded Projects