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Wed, 2017-02-22 10:20

Halt Cancer at X Names National Breast Cancer Research Grant Recipients

Authored By: Edited Press Release
Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

KALISPELL, Mont. (Feb. 21, 2017) – It is estimated that one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. One Montana-based organization, Halt Cancer at X, is determined to change that statistic.

Launched in 2012, Halt Cancer at X is an initiative that funds breast cancer research and support services. Over the years, the organization has contributed more than a quarter of a million dollars to various cancer-halting causes, and this year, it continues that tradition: Halt Cancer at X today announced the national recipients for their 2016-2017 Halt Cancer at X Community Grants, totaling $70,000. Funds for this year were raised at The 2016 Event at Rebecca Farm, a community-driven event that is also considered one of the largest equestrian triathlons in North America.

National Recipients:

Dr. Robert Mutter, M.D. from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN -  $50,000 (1st time recipient)

  • The grant will allow Dr. Mutter to research and develop new combination therapies for those affected by Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC).
  • Considered one of the more hard-hitting subsets of breast cancer, TNBC represents about 20 percent of all breast cancers, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Due to its nature, many drugs and therapy treatments are ineffective. Dr. Mutter hopes to develop ones that work.

Dr. Mario Capecchi and Dr. Simon Titen of the telomere study in Salt Lake City, UT - $20,000 (5th time recipient)

  • The duo will use funds to determine how cancer cells add new telomeres, the parts of chromosomes that control cell growth and aging. In normal cells, telomeres get shorter and shorter and eventually die. However, if a gene mutates, it can become cancer-causing and multiply.  
  • Dr. Capecchi and Dr. Titen's research will help determine if current therapeutic agents are helping thwart a cancer cell’s ability to reproduce.

“This year, as in other years, we are honored to support breast cancer programs and studies,” remarks Halt Cancer at X founder, Sarah Broussard. “We are particularly excited this year to support some innovative research that showcases the progress being made in the field of breast cancer.”

First-time recipient, Dr. Robert Mutter, M.D. from the Mayo Clinic was awarded the largest grant at $50,000. The grant will allow Dr. Mutter to research and develop new combination therapies for those affected by Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC).

Considered one of the more hard-hitting subsets of breast cancer, TNBC represents about 20 percent of all breast cancers, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. In TNBC, tumor cells often lack certain receptors known to fuel cancer growth, causing certain treatments like hormone therapy and drugs to be ineffective.

It is an aggressive form of cancer, Mutter notes. It does not help that there are no approved, targeted therapies available for TNBC at the present time either, he says. “Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are very effective for some patients [with TBNC]. Unfortunately, many patients respond poorly to [these treatments]. We have a lot of work to do to improve outcomes in those individuals.”

With the help of Halt Cancer at X, Mutter remains optimistic. “Having the support of Halt Cancer at X will enable us to continue our work [of] trying to identify new therapies for women with [this form of] breast cancer,” he says.That said, Mutter realizes that the road ahead will not be easy. “In order to make meaningful discoveries that will improve the lives of patients, it will require hard work in the laboratory and help from organizations such as Halt Cancer at X. That is why I am so thankful for their support.”

Away from the laboratory, Mutter is personally saddened by the struggles of his patients and their families as they battle this devastating disease. Ultimately, though, it’s what keeps him going. “My patients motivate me to wake up each day to try to improve treatments for them and to provide hope, even when I cannot cure their illnesses,” he adds.  “I am truly privileged and honored to play a role in their lives.”

Dr. Mutter’s work is not the only national research to receive funding from Halt Cancer at X. For the fifth consecutive year, the telemore study, headed by Dr. Mario Capecchi and Dr. Simon Titen has received a $20,000 grant. The duo will use funds to determine how cancer cells add new telomeres, the parts of chromosomes that control cell growth and aging. In normal cells, telomeres get shorter and shorter and eventually die. However, if a gene mutates, it can become cancer-causing and multiply.  Dr. Capecchi and Dr. Titen indicate that their research will help determine if current therapeutic agents are helping thwart a cancer cell’s ability to reproduce.

Like Mutter, Dr. Capecchi expresses deep appreciation. “We are elated to be selected as a Halt Cancer at X grant recipient again,” he says. “The work we are doing is an attempt to design a novel technique, and the potential to help many patients is undeniable.”

Broussard agrees, and notes that she is proud to continue supporting the telomere study. “We feel it is valuable research that has the potential to really help people and, ultimately, to halt cancer.”

Created in memory of Rebecca Broussard, founder of the Event at Rebecca Farm, Halt Cancer at X purposes to give back to the community. The initiative’s name comes from dressage, a sport between horse and rider that falls under the umbrella of eventing: The first movement requires horse and rider to halt at X, a station marked in the arena.

Local grant recipients, announced last October, have likewise benefitted from Halt Cancer at X funding. They include Save a Sister, Cancer Support Community of Kalispell, Flathead Cancer Aid Services and Flathead Cancer Chicks, cumulatively receiving grants of nearly $60,000.

As for the future of Halt Cancer at X, Broussard says she hopes the charitable organization continues to grow.

“The support we have received for Halt Cancer in years’ past has been phenomenal, and we could not be more thankful for everyone’s help in making it what it is today,” she says. “We look forward to supporting cancer research for years to come. Hopefully, there will be a cure along the way.”

For more information on Halt Cancer at X, please visit http://www.rebeccafarm.org/halt-cancer/#halt.

ABOUT THE EVENT AT REBECCA FARM

The Event at Rebecca Farm, presented by Montana Equestrian Events, is held every July in Kalispell, Montana. One of the largest equestrian triathlons in the United States, The Event is also considered to have some of the world’s finest scenery. Each year it draws hundreds of riders of all levels, from amateur to Olympians.

Rebecca Farm features ten courses, which range from novice to Olympian qualifier.  The courses were originally developed by world-renowned course designer, Mark Phillips, and in 2012, Scottish equestrian Ian Stark redesigned them. Known for his immense contributions to eventing, Stark has won multiple Olympic medals and was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

For more information, visit www.rebeccafarm.org.

ABOUT HALT CANCER AT X

Sarah Broussard launched Halt Cancer at X in 2012 in memory of her mother and The Event at Rebecca Farm Founder, Rebecca Broussard.  Halt Cancer at X is an initiative to raise money for breast cancer research, with its name is deriving from dressage — The first movement of the horse and rider are to halt at X, a station marked in the arena.

Funds raised from Halt Cancer at X are infused back into cancer research at both the community and national level, primarily in working toward a cure. Since its creation, the organization has expanded through the combined efforts of competitor pledges, auctions, tax-deductible contributions, parking donations and other imaginative fund raising.

For more information, please visit http://www.rebeccafarm.org/halt-cancer/#halt

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