The following is a post from guest blogger Dr. Elizabeth Iorns, breast cancer researcher and co-founder of the Science Exchange.
Every year, billions of dollars are donated and invested to find a cure for breast cancer. Yet, with all this investment, we have made very little headway over the past few decades to find better options to treat and prevent this complex disease. Consider that little of the funds from health charities and pharmaceutical companies goes to scientists who can help end this disease by finding smarter methods of prevention.
As a breast cancer researcher, I think it’s time to change the way we think about funding breast cancer prevention. Rather than sitting on the sidelines I decided to try something new by bringing a project to study the BRCA gene directly to the public. My approach for this project is admittedly unconventional: I think there may be a way to prevent men who carry BRCA gene mutations from passing those mutations to their children. The idea for this project came from previous research that found that cancer cells that have mutated copies of the BRCA gene are exquisitely sensitive to PARP inhibitors. My hypothesis is that PARP inhibitors may also eliminate BRCA mutant sperm. Treating male BRCA mutation carriers with PARP inhibitors may deplete the BRCA mutant sperm, allowing normal conception of children that do not carry the BRCA mutation.
We need to rethink how we fund the science behind prevention. For me, this is just a first step in the right direction. Changing the way we fund breast cancer research will require support from the scientific and patient communities alike. I am hoping for support from both women and men in the BRCA community who want smarter options to prevent breast cancer. If you would like to learn more about my research project, please visit my fundraising page. If you want to change the future of funding in breast cancer prevention, please donate.
I plan to update my research project with the results of my experiments as they are being conducted so everyone will be able to track my progress in real time. If you have any questions or suggestions for my project I would love to hear from you!