Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women, yet its cure has remained unresolved. That may be about to change. Cure Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization created to raise money for breast cancer research under the direction of noted oncologist, Dr. Larry Norton, at the world-renowned Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and other national and international research facilities. Since its inception in December 2007, CBCF has raised over $7.5 million for breast cancer research.
CBCF differs from other philanthropic organizations because instead of raising money for general breast cancer research, funds raised by the CBCF are devoted entirely to Dr. Larry Norton’s and his colleagues’ research on the growth and spreading of breast cancer cells known as the Self-Seeding Theory. This research focuses on improving the understanding of not only breast cancer, but also other cancers.
CBCF is the primary source of funding for research on the Self-Seeding Theory, conceived by Dr. Larry Norton in collaboration with Dr. Joan Massagué. The Self-Seeding Theory provides radically new insight into how breast cancer grows and spreads, including a revolutionary concept of cancer as a disease of cell mobility as well as cell division. One of the problems with cancer is that abnormal cells divide too much and hence make masses of cells called tumors. However, single tumors can almost always be removed by surgery or destroyed by radiation treatments.
The biggest problem is that cancer cells do not “stay put” in the organ where they originate but rather travel to other parts of the body where they can also make tumors that can destroy those organs (bone, liver, brain, etc.). What research scientists supported by CBCF funds have discovered is that the cancer cells travel from the organ of origin (the “primary site”) to other organs (the “secondary site” or “site of metastases”) can also travel back to the primary site, reinvigorating growth in that location. If the primary tumor is destroyed then the cancer cells circulating in the blood can go to secondary sites, causing more tumors to form and more destruction.
For this reason, CBCF scientists are studying ways to inhibit the process of “seeding.” These include:
- Learning how bones can provide a place for breast cancer cells to “hide” for years before growing or traveling to other secondary sites.
- Learning how white blood cells help cancers grow, survive chemotherapy, and “seed.” We wish to inhibit these bad white blood cells so that cancer cells are less able to grow, less able to survive chemotherapy, and less able to seed new metastases.
- Conversely, some white blood cells can inhibit the process of “seeding” the lung. We wish to encourage the development of these white blood cells by a variety of techniques.
- Learning how we can turn the primary cancer into a “poisoned sponge” that can attract seeds and then destroy them immunologically.
- Learning which genes underlie all of these processes so that we can develop better diagnostic methods, better means of targeted therapy to attack cancer cells and bad white blood cells, and ultimately innovative ways to prevent cancer from happening in the first place.
Donations to Cure Breast Cancer Foundation fund innovative research that could dramatically change the treatment for breast cancer in the future. Mounting evidence from this pioneering research is translating a theory into life-saving treatments.