Last month, National Breast Cancer Coalition President Fran Visco sat with Paul Goldberg, Publisher of The Cancer Letter, for an interview about Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®. The interview was the cover story in the January 25 issue of The Cancer Letter and included an audio version of their conversation—a first for the nearly 40 year old publication.
During the 30-minute interview, Visco goes into greater detail about the scientific progress we are making as a result of our deadline, how we are identifying and overcoming some of the barriers, and where the conversation in breast cancer should be to reach our goal.
Excerpts from the interview:
PG: So you’ve been doing this for two years, and you have seven years left. Is the goal getting closer?
FV: Well, I believe it’s getting closer. The deadline is getting closer, and I believe our work is making a difference. We are very excited about what we are doing with the preventive vaccine work, and also with the stopping metastasis work, and working at these issues in very different ways, and changing the conversation around breast cancer.
That is so important. If a conversation stops focusing on the next grant, and it stops focusing on screening and expanding mammograms for women around the world, and it really focuses on how we can end this disease, how we can stop women from dying, then that’s an incredible contribution that we’ve made in the short term.
But that’s where the conversation has to be.
PG: What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned from this so far?
FV: I don’t think there is one most important lesson. I think that I’ve learned that—and I think a lot of the advocates would agree with me—that we’ve learned that there are many more scientists that are willing to be a part of this than there were at the beginning, and to some extent we underestimated they’re willingness to take a chance with us to try and make this happen.
So that was one lesson that we learned, and, at the same time—this maybe sounds contradictory—we learned that the infrastructure and business of breast cancer is really rooted and very difficult to change. Even more difficult than we thought.
We’ve always thought we are on the periphery, making this work regardless, but now we have to do some chipping away at that infrastructure.
So those are the two out of many lessons I’ve learned.
Through the generous support of National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) announced today that it has awarded a seed grant to Dr. Paul Ewald, Professor of Biology and Director, Program on Disease Evolution at the University of Louisville, and Dr. Vladimir Belyi, Assistant Professor at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The researchers will take a systematic look through two sets of breast cancer genomes for evidence of infectious agents. Bioinformatic tools will be used to compare the presence of infectious agents in breast tumors with normal breast tissue. Researchers will then look at the biological mechanisms of the infectious agents to understand the relationships between these agents and breast cancer.
This seed grant is part of NBCC’s Artemis Project® for a preventive vaccine, which brings together a collaborative group of advocates and scientists to take a strategic, systematic yet broad approach to the development of a breast cancer vaccine within five years.
An earlier seed grant was awarded to Dr. Paul Spellman and Dr. Joe Gray of Oregon Health and Science University to identify possible vaccine targets using existing and developing human genomic data within different breast cancer subtypes. The analysis will generate a prioritized list of about 50-100 potential breast cancer specific targets to be considered for incorporation into a preventive vaccine. Initial data from research for both seed grants will be presented at the Artemis Project® annual meeting to be held next month.
For more information, read the press release distributed to the media on February 6, 2013.
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