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Huntsman Cancer Institute to Use National Cancer Institute Grant for Breast Cancer Trial Center


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Alana Welm, PhD

Alana Welm, PhD

Bryan Welm, PhD

Bryan Welm, PhD

Michael Lewis, PhD

Michael Lewis, PhD

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah has been awarded a $2.4 million 2-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to help continue its research in breast cancer. Alana Welm, PhD, and Bryan Welm, PhD, investigators at Huntsman Cancer Institute, along with Michael Lewis, PhD, a colleague at Baylor College of Medicine, will use this new funding to serve as a Breast Cancer Patient–Derived Xenograft Development and Trials Center (PDTC) to study new drugs for breast cancer. This new center is only one of four such centers in the nation.

The PDTC is based on cutting-edge research conducted over the past 10 years at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. The Welms and their colleagues established methods that allow samples of tumors from patients with breast cancer taken during biopsies or surgeries to be grown in the laboratory in ways closely resembling tumor growth in humans. Not only can the models of patient-derived tumors represent a diverse array of human breast cancers, the models can also be used to test new drugs and drug combinations to identify treatments to best target the tumor.

The goal of PDTC is to provide data that can be used to help prioritize breast cancer clinical trials at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the National Cancer Institute. Toward this goal, the Center will focus on testing new drugs that are already available through National Cancer Institute’s Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network.

“This new grant will be used to test many different experimental cancer drugs available,” said Dr. Alana Welm. “This funding is critical to help us determine why certain drugs work for some people and why others do not. We then hope to turn these findings into new clinical trials as quickly as possible.”

The grant is supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health U54 CA224076 and can be extended up to 5 years. ■


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