SCIENTIFIC ACCOUNT OF BENEFITS FROM INITIAL AND PROJECTED RESEARCH
GOALS MADE POSSIBLE BY KIM'S PROVISION OF TUMOR AND TISSUE SAMPLES
1. The current and planned-for studies described in this section have all been made possible at this time by Kim's decision to forego pre-surgical chemotherapy in order to provide her unaffected tumors and tissues. Because Kim's primary, secondary, and metastatic TNBC tumors were unaffected by chemotherapy and all harvested at the same time (June 11, 2014), they will be supremely useful for studying, by use of comparison assays, ways in which TNBC spreads and metastasizes (causes tumors in organs and tissues outside the breast).
2. Kim's Triple Negative Breast Cancer tumor has been successfully cultivated, through living tumor tissue transplantation, in mice specialized for growing human tumors. The cultivated tumor has been genetically confirmed by a contracted laboratory in Baltimore, MD to be Kim's human TNBC tumor uncontaminated by mouse tumor.
3. Researchers at a contracted laboratory in Boston, MA have already determined evidence of genetic mutations in Kim's TNBC primary (original) preserved tumor. They will soon begin genetic studies called germ line analyses on samples from her harvested control specimens to determine which genetic mutations might be inherited.
4. Researchers at the Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago are partnering with researchers from other institutions to expand on histological (tissue) studies conducted at the University of Cincinnati. They will analyze and compare Kim's preserved tumor/tissue blocks for genetic mutations, mutated gene products and mutated proteins. N.B.: Pre-surgical chemotherapy would have altered these gene products and protein molecules, rendering them useless for the studies that Kim's unadulterated tumors are making possible.
5. A research team under the direction of Dr. Walter Keith Jones, Chair of the Dept. of Pharmacology and Molecular Therapeutics at Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, plans to cultivate Kim's primary TNBC tumor from tumors cultivated in mice to develop cell lines for in vitro TNBC tumor tissue studies. The team's primary research plan is to develop an immortal cell line using cells from Kim's cultivated tumor with the hope of facilitating basic and pharmacological research into TNBC for many years to come. Through the study of their gene products and mutated proteins, these cells can be used to determine which mutations are "drivers" of the cancer. This research plan will result in new knowledge about regulatory processes and genes involved in TNBC. The work will be supplemented by studies using other patient samples and by collaborative efforts with other groups doing TNBC research.
6. Once the drivers of TNBC are discovered, Dr. Jones' Molecular Therapeutics team will work to identify and/or develop molecularly targeted therapies and chemotherapies that work against this tumor cell line. It is important to note that results will be validated in the mice carrying the tumor. The hope is that, one day, this approach leads to new therapies for certain types of TNBC treatment, or to expedited pathways for developing therapies for specific patients by using cultivated cells and in vivo models (animal studies).
7. By using techniques of proteomic science (the study of protein expression) on Kim's tumors, researchers have the hope of creating a blood test for detecting TNBC, and possibly other forms of breast cancer as well. This would constitute a major advancement in early detection, which is so critical for TNBC and other aggressive forms of breast cancer because current diagnostic methods often miss such cancers in their early stages. A reliable blood test would be a great boon to women with a family history of TNBC, and to women in high-risk groups (such as post-menopausal women of African heritage).
8. The potential to use tumors from specialized mice to develop reliable protocols for individual vaccine development is a long-term research goal for which Kim's cells have provided a critical starting point.
9. Kim has established a very special legacy for breast cancer research in the form of a "Human Tissue Trust" - a legal entity for the preservation and allocation of her unique tissues and genetic materials. The trust provides for protection of Kim's genome while preserving her tissue resources for use exclusively in research on TNBC and other forms of breast cancer.