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Taxpayers give back for cancer: Jefferson researcher awarded 'Refunds for Research' grant

PHILADELPHIA -- Takemi Tanaka, Ph.D., of Thomas Jefferson University's School of Pharmacy and the Kimmel Cancer Center , received a $50,000 grant toward her breast cancer research, as part of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition's (PBCC) "Refunds for Breast and Cervical Cancer Research" initiative.

The PBCC's grants are made possible through contributions from state taxpayers who choose to contribute all or part of their state income tax refund to the program.

Dr. Tanaka's research focuses on breast cancer metastasis. When cancer metastasizes, cancer cells enter the distal organs through the blood vessels. Dr. Tanaka envisions those vessels as a gateway for the cells and wants to close it as tight as possible to prevent the cancer from spreading further.

Her team developed a new drug called ESTA to block the entry of breast cancer cells into the tissue. Early data show that mice treated with the drug had 60 percent less metastases without toxicity.

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the tax payers for their generous support for my breast cancer research to help eradicate this deadly disease," Dr. Tanaka said. "We believe that success with our strategy may transform current breast cancer therapy and move us one step closer to a cure."

Dr. Tanaka is one of three researchers who received funding through PBCC's Breast and Cervical Cancer Research initiative. The other recipients are from the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute.

"We're extremely proud of Dr. Tanaka's recognition by the Pa. Breast Cancer Coalition and thankful for the people in Pennsylvania who donated to help support these grants, as well as the PBCC for their efforts to raise awareness about breast cancer," said Rebecca Finley, PharmD, M.S., Dean of Jefferson's School of Pharmacy. "Dr. Tanaka's work with this promising new drug will only help us better understand and potentially better treat this important health issue in women."

The PBCC kicked off its annual Refunds for Breast and Cervical Cancer Research campaign to fund the cancer researchers on Monday, Feb. 13 at City Hall with Councilmen Dennis O'Brien.

Since 1997, more than $2.8 million has been donated to the Refunds for Research campaign and 71 grants have been awarded to Pennsylvania researchers looking for the cause of and cure for these common cancers in women.

Contact: Steve Graff
Thomas Jefferson University

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