Brock Receives 2014 Breast Cancer Research Foundation-AACR Grant


14 AACR 009446-X3

Brock receives her award from Dr. Charles Sawyers, Immediate Past President of the AACR and Dr. Larry Norton, Scientific Director of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. She was one of only two scientists to receive the grant.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) has awarded Professor Amy Brock with a two-year grant to continue developing new treatments for breast cancer. Brock was recognized with the 2014 Breast Cancer Research Foundation-American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Grant for Translational Breast Cancer Research at the AACR Annual Meeting in April 2014.



Brock is studying ways to treat early stage lesions known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), in which abnormal cells grow inside the milk ducts of the mammary glands. According to Scientific American, in the U.S. about 25 percent of newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer in the U.S. are classified as DCIS.

She says mammography is great at detecting small lesions such as DCIS, but only a fraction of these abnormalities ever develop into tumors. At this time, there are no good biomarkers to predict which DCIS lesions may become life-threatening. Patients' current courses of action are to observe the abnormalities to see if they turn into cancer or to preemptively have the abnormal growths removed through lumpectomies or mastectomies, neither of which is an ideal option.

Brock is looking at new, less drastic, ways to treat abnormal cells—namely changing cell behavior. In essence, she wants to treat the earliest stage of cancer before it has a chance to fully develop, while not affecting normal cells in breast tissue.

She has seen promising results in a study with mice, where she delivers silencing RNA (siRNA) directly into abnormal mammary ducts. siRNA are small sequences of RNA that bind to RNA already occurring in cells. sIRNA can change and reprogram them to change their behavior. Abnormal growths are not destroyed, but rather, rehabilitated.

Brock's new grant will allow her to continue study in this area and move closer to preclinical validation. In the next phase of study, she seeks to understand more about how this therapy interacts with the breast tissue environment, the dynamics of drug delivery, as well as safety considerations and potential side effects.

The BCRF was founded in 1993 by Evelyn Lauder, the former Senior Corporate Vice President and Head of Fragrance Development Worldwide for Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. and a survivor of early stage breast cancer. BCRF has raised more than $475 million to fuel discoveries in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, survivorship and metastasis. This year, they have invested $45 million in the work of more than 200 researchers at leading medical institutions across six continents.