Despite of continuous development in breast cancer treatments, metastases of the most aggressive breast cancer types are still a significant and growing medical problem. Together with a research group at Michigan University, the group of Professor Jukka Westermarck at Turku Bioscience Centre recently received funding from the US Department of Defense for the development of novel treatment strategies for breast cancer metastases.
The study focuses on synergistic effects of existing cancer drugs with novel molecules that reactivate the PP2A tumor suppressor protein. Previous collaboration between the Finnish and American research groups demonstrated that combining PP2A targeting drugs with existing pharmaceutical compounds enhances the efficiency of the treatment in lung cancer models, and the same strategy will now be applied to metastatic breast cancer models.
Interestingly, the funds were granted by the US Department of Defense that is a significant funding body for medical research in the United States. From this experience, Professor Westermarck encourages researchers to look for new and unusual funding resources – especially now when research funding from the State of Finland has decreased remarkably – to enable the continuation of high-level medical research in Finland.
– Although our portion of the funding is only a fraction of what our partner in the US received, the funding of 200,000 euros is a remarkable additional resource for us to be able to continue the development of our findings, first to be tested in animal models and later hopefully to benefit cancer patients, says Westermarck.