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Northeastern University Partners with MGH for Innovative Breast Cancer Research

Large Grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure to Fund Unique Research Collaboration

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Northeastern University’s Barnett Institute have announced a $1,266,328 grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure to carry out a novel breast cancer research project. The joint award brings together leading researchers from both institutions to discover protein biomarkers that can predict which women with benign diagnoses will go on to develop breast cancer, and which will remain cancer free.

As part of the research study, co-principals Dennis C. Sgroi, MD of MGH and Barry L. Karger (to the right), Ph.D. of Northeastern will work with archived tissue samples from MGH patients. The normal breast tissues and the specimens from breast cancer patients will go through detailed comparative protein analyses by Karger’s laboratories.

Using bioinformatics tools, the researchers will identify proteins that are differentially abundant in breast cancer epithelium as compared with normal breast epithelium. These breast cancer-associated proteins (BCAPs) will serve as potential biomarkers of breast cancer.

Sgroi’s research group will validate the candidate BCAPs in the unique cohort of benign breast cancer patients at MGH. Each BCAP will be evaluated individually as well as in combination with other BCPAs to determine the protein expression signature that predicts for increased risk of breast cancer in this population.   

“We anticipate that through this process we will identify a proteomic biomarker signature that is prognostic for increased breast cancer risk for these patients,” said Sgroi, director of Breast Pathology at MGH, and associate professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, and principal investigator of the grant. “The development of such a biomarker signature will help clinicians better identify the subset of benign breast disease patients who likely benefit from aggressive breast cancer monitoring and therapeutic prevention strategies.

The research teams of MGH and Northeastern’s Barnett Institute are excited about the opportunities in the clinical management of breast cancer that are provided by the availability of new technologies.

“Prior to the recent utilization of advanced bioanalytical technologies, researchers were unable to identify the subset of patients who are likely to develop breast cancer,” said Karger, director of the Barnett Institute and James L. Waters chair at Northeastern, and co-principal investigator of the grant. “The Barnett Institute’s state-of-the-art proteomic mass spectrometric technologies will enable us to identify and validate a proteomic biomarker signature that is prognostic for increased breast cancer risk in benign breast disease patients.”

The grant was awarded through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Focused Areas of Study program and will provide $1.26 million in research funding over three years.

For more information, please contact Renata Nyul at 617-373-7424 or at r.nyul@neu.edu.

About The Barnett Institute at Northeastern University

The Barnett Institute at Northeastern University is recognized internationally as one of the premier centers for cutting-edge research and advanced training in analytical chemistry for biomedical applications. Established in 1973, the Institute’s close ties to the medical community and industry in Boston and beyond, along with its active program of licensing technology, provides for many “real life” applications of research advances which have led to innumerable published papers and 70 patents. Bioanalytical research is at the interface of biology, medicine, informatics and chemistry. Students and staff in the Institute are trained to think analytically and to understand the complexity of biological samples. The Institute's entrepreneurial approach and commitment to excellence has trained over 300 students to become leaders in industry and academia worldwide.

About the Massachusetts General Hospital

Founded in 1811, the MGH is the third oldest general hospital in the United States and the oldest and largest in New England. The 900-bed medical center offers sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic care in virtually every specialty and subspecialty of medicine and surgery. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the country, with an annual research budget of more than $500 million. It is the oldest and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, where nearly all MGH staff physicians serve on the faculty. The MGH was the first in the state to achieve Magnet status for nursing, and it is consistently ranked among the nation’s top hospitals by US News and World Report.  For more information, please visit www.massgeneral.org.

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston.  Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world.  The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions.  For more information, please visit www.northeastern.edu.


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