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Health Team

Duke, UNC teams getting $1.5 million for breast cancer research will study vaccines, death rates in Black women

Posted October 13, 2021 7:00 a.m. EDT
Updated October 13, 2021 4:00 p.m. EDT

Three research teams at Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill have received grants for lifesaving metastatic breast cancer research.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced the grants on Wednesday, Metastatic Breast Cancer Day (MBC), which is recognized during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

MBC, also called stage 4 breast cancer, is when breast cancer can become deadly, spreading to other areas of the body.

"Each year we recognize this special day to counter some serious misconceptions by people who believe incorrectly that all breast cancers are easily treated and curable," Susan G. Komen leaders said.

Gifts of $500,000 each made possible by donations from individuals and groups throughout the state will be donated to the three N.C. research teams fighting MBC. All three teams include a mix of researchers from Duke and UNC who joined forces to fight the deadly disease.

Teams of doctors from UNC and Duke will use the grant money to study how breast cancer cells can grow and spread more quickly in patients of African descent, contributing to higher breast cancer death rates among Black women, while working toward better treatments and outcomes.

"Researchers will also evaluate how life stress contributes to higher metastasis rates and worse breast cancer outcomes in Black women when compared to white women," one study described.

A third team will work to fight tumors using vaccine technology and stimulating the immune system.

All three teams include a mix of researchers from Duke and UNC who joined forces to fight the deadly disease.

According to Susan G. Komen, more than 44,000 people in the U.S. are expected to die from breast cancer this year, and an estimated 168,000 patients in the country are currently living with MBC.

On WRAL News at Noon, Pam Kohl, the director of the local Susan G. Komen branch who is living with MBC, and Dr. Jeremy Force, an oncologist at the Duke Cancer Center, will answer questions about breast cancer research.

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