Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research Breast Research Registry now has over 1,000 participants

The registry’s research data base of tissue and blood samples as well as medical information from those diagnosed and treated for breast cancer and other breast problems is sponsored by the Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research. The center is part of the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute which is a Baystate-based research initiative with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The center was created in 2011 at PVLSI with $1.5 million in funding from the annual Rays of Hope - Walk & Run Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer. The walk, which will mark year 25 in October, was Lucia “Lucy” Giuggio Carvalho’s initiative. She was recovering from her own breast cancer treatment when she was inspired by other walks in Boston to approach Baystate about one to raise funds for breast health services. The registry was initiated in 2012 by UMass professor and scientist D. Joseph Jerry and Baystate medical oncologist Grace Makari-Judson, co-directors of the Rays of Hope breast cancer research center, the registry already helped the center share in a five-year, $3.5 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute as well as a $1.5 million Department of Defense grant.

VASCI faculty member and Director, Biospecimen Resource and Molecular Analysis Facility at the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute, Sallie Schneider drew applause for briefly sketching the importance of the close-up, expanded research of fresh tissue the registry will allow.

We have been able to capture a quarter to a third of the women who have registered and take tumor tissue but mostly normal tissue that would have been thrown away. We can look at that and use it in research. We can process it. We can continue to grow it. And why is this important?” Schneider said.

If you go out and search all these papers that have all this research, they use the same 10 cell lines for every single study. You are not going to be able to look at genetic variation by looking at 10 cell lines. What we have stored here for future research going forward is the ability to look at how genetic variation contributes to risk.”

She added, “The (NIEHS) grant is enabling us to look at exposure to chemicals that might be in our plastics, in our food, in our makeup.”

Not everyone gets cancer when they are exposed to these things, but some women might. So, trying to understand which women or the timing of the exposure that is important - that you can only do that on living tissue, Schneider said.

And I don’t want to go and inject you with these things, but now I can get a little breast tissue that was going to be thrown away and to expose it in a cell culture dish - we are having a good day. From the bottom of my heart thank you to you all because this has really opened an amazing number of doors for me and many other researchers to come.”

Read the full story at MassLive.