Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.
Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.

The Gray Foundation empowers team science against BRCA-mutated cancers

Gray Foundation logo

Summer 2024
By Elina Tonkova
Photography by Sam Ogden

Philanthropy has transformative power to address society’s intractable challenges. The Gray Foundation is committed to this goal and, with two grants totaling nearly $6 million, is harnessing this power for good through The Dana-Farber Campaign. Co-founded by Jon Gray, president and chief operating officer of Blackstone, one of the world’s leading investment firms, and his wife, Mindy, the Gray Foundation has funded close to $200 million in BRCA-related research since 2012. These latest grants to Dana-Farber are part of a recent $25 million initiative that awarded grants to seven research teams.

Individuals who inherit a mutated BRCA gene are 60% more likely to develop certain cancers compared to the general population. The Gray Foundation recently awarded grants to multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary teams studying BRCA, including those led by Judy Garber, MD, MPH, chief of the Division of Cancer Genetics and Prevention and the Susan F. Smith Chair at Dana-Farber; and Dipanjan Chowdhury, PhD, chief of the Division of Radiation and Genome Stability and the Svanberg Family Chair at Dana-Farber, who are also codirectors of the Institute’s Center for BRCA and Related Genes. The goal of these awards is to maximize collective impact so each new discovery leads to further advances and innovations toward the prevention, early detection, and interception of cancer.

Previous research by Garber suggests that PARP inhibitors (PARPi) and similar agents that treat certain cancers by targeting the body’s DNA repair system may reduce, or even prevent, future development of precancerous lesions driven by BRCA mutations into breast or ovarian cancer. Now, Garber is collecting healthy breast or fallopian tissue from patients who received PARPi therapy for another non-metastatic BRCA-related cancer. She and her collaborators will use advanced scientific profiling techniques to comprehensively evaluate the effects of PARPi and compare PARPi-treated tissue with healthy tissue from BRCA mutation carriers not treated with PARPi to search for biomarkers or other indicators associated with the progression of BRCA-related cancer.

About half of people who carry a BRCA mutation have a family history of cancer that would indicate genetic testing. Despite this, only one in 10 of the estimated 1 million carriers in the U.S. is aware of their status. Furthermore, current tests for ovarian cancer only detect the disease at advanced stages. Chowdhury has previously identified a set of 10 microRNAs (miRNAs), small molecules that affect gene regulation, whose presence in blood is associated with BRCA mutations. The miRNAs can be used to detect the mutations in individuals from high-risk families to help address these gaps in testing and early disease detection. Chowdhury will study patient blood samples taken over time with two aims: first, to test the miRNA set in predicting breast cancer cases retrospectively and better understand the clinical lead time to diagnosis, and second, to explore the possibility of other, currently unknown inherited drivers of cancer predisposition being correlated with this miRNA set.

Ultimately, these investigations could significantly improve cancer surveillance and prevention. “Our goal is to support the best minds in cancer research studying BRCA-associated pre-cancer and early cancerous lesions,” said Mindy and Jon Gray. “Dr. Garber’s and Dr. Chowdhury’s world-class projects stand to transform outcomes for individuals and families with BRCA-related mutations.”

,

More stories:

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap