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$250,000 Komen Foundation Grant Awarded to Wake Forest University Scientists

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has awarded a $250,000 grant to two researchers in the Hypertension and Vascular Disease Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Researchers Patricia E. Gallagher, Ph.D., and E. Ann Tallant, Ph.D., are co-investigators in a two-year project studying the use of a small protein found in human blood and tissues to prevent breast cancer.

In initial studies, Gallagher and Tallant showed that angiotensin-(1-7) reduces the growth of breast cancer cells. Angiotensin-(1-7), a small protein found in human blood and tissues, is increased in patients treated with drugs called angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors.

Earlier studies show that high blood pressure patients that were treated with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors had a reduced risk of developing cancer.

“Specifically, the relative risk was lowest in patients with sex-specific cancer, such as breast cancer,” said Tallant. “We showed that angiotensin-(1-7) reduces the growth of cells forming blood vessels and predict that it will inhibit the growth of human breast cancer.”

In their study, Tallant and Gallagher will expose human breast cancer cells to various amounts of the protein to determine the ability of the cells to continue to grow.

“Next, we will then use chemicals to cause the formation of breast tumors in laboratory rats and determine whether treatment with angiotensin-(1-7) will prevent the development of these tumors,” said Gallagher. “Finally, the specific changes in breast cancer cells caused by angiotensin-(1-7) to inhibit their growth will be examined.”

The results of their studies will determine whether angiotensin-(1-7) inhibits the growth of human breast cancer cells and more importantly, whether angiotensin-(1-7) may be an effective agent to prevent breast cancer.

Tallant is associate professor of surgical sciences and associate professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Gallagher is assistant professor of surgical sciences and assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

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Contact: Jim Steele jsteele@wfubmc.edu, Jonnie Rohrer jrohrer@wfubmc.edu, or Karen Richardson krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu, (336) 716-4587.

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