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QVC and Fashion Footwear Association of New York Support Breast Cancer Research at Wistar

Supporting cancer research is not just essential to saving lives. It is fashionable!

Building on their ongoing commitment to breast cancer research, QVC, Inc., and the Fashion Footwear Association of New York  (FFANY) recently announced a $140,000 grant to fund breast cancer research at The Wistar Institute.

"The mission of the QVC-FFANY relationship is to support the most promising research with the potential to end breast cancer," said Mike George, president and CEO of QVC in a release announcing the gift. "We are proud to support The Wistar Institute's work as it holds great promise for developing new treatments for breast cancer and saving women's lives." QVC addresses critical health issues for women by working with organizations, like FFANY, to invest in life-saving research.   

The grant will support the laboratory of Dario C. Altieri, M.D., director of The Wistar Institute Cancer Center, in the effort to explore the genetic basis of triple negative breast cancer with the goal of developing new, improved treatments.

Nearly one in four breast cancer patients are categorized as having the “triple negative” form of the disease.  It is called triple negative breast cancer because it is marked by the lack of three important protein receptors on the surface of protein—estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).  There is currently no advanced therapeutics that target triple negative tumors, and the disease is noted for a high rate of relapse, or recurrence, after chemotherapy.  

Altieri and his team set out to discover how triple negative breast cancers survive without these important proteins and, in doing so, they found a common factor. Since cells require these signals in order to grow and divide, triple negative breast cancer cells survive by using a gene that is normally “switched off” in adults: Notch-1.

Notch-1, Altieri found, creates a new signaling pathway that supports and maintains tumors. Their goal, therefore, is to first map out the pathways Notch-1 uses to ensure cancer cell survival and, secondly, to create a molecular inhibitor that targets Notch-1 or related proteins in order to deprive cancer cells of their only means of survival. This inhibitor could form the basis of a new drug, the first specifically designed to kill triple negative breast cancer.

"This funding will help us develop better, more targeted therapies against this highly aggressive form of breast cancer," Altieri said. "We are grateful to QVC and FFANY for their vision in ensuring this promising line of research moves forward."

 The Wistar Institute is also grateful to Douglas Briggs, former president and CEO of QVC, Inc. and Wistar board member, for his significant support of this partnership on behalf of Wistar.