Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Two cancer scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, both of whom lead research teams, met recently with strong Long Island supporters of their work, updating them on the status of their current projects and thanking them for helping to make them possible.
Nicholas Tonks, Ph.D., F.R.S. and Mikala Egeblad, Ph.D., expressed their gratitude for support from the Gladowsky Foundation for studies that they indicated are likely to lead to clinical trials in human patients.
The Foundation was represented by Jason Gladowsky and Alison Deblinger-Gladowsky, whose mother, Joni Gladowsky, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37, and fought the disease with high spirits and dignity before succumbing at age 52.
The Joni Gladowsky Breast Cancer Foundation was founded in 2002 by friends and family of Joni, who gather each summer at the “Play for the Cure” golf outing—a joyful celebration of Joni’s life, which her young grandchildren know as “Joni’s party.” Since 2007, the Gladowsky Foundation has donated over $175,000 to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from proceeds of the annual golf outing, and this year’s first annual “Winter Classic Hockey Game,” held in March at the Syosset-Woodbury Park Outdoor Ice Rink.
Dr. Egeblad shared her latest findings with the Gladowsky siblings, noting that funding from the Gladowsky Foundation was critical in the purchase of components for a vital piece of cutting-edge equipment: a spinning-disk confocal microscope. The one in Egeblad’s lab is one of only three in the world.
Using this advanced microscope and mouse models of human breast cancer, Dr. Egeblad’s group is investigating the effects of cells and proteins located near cancer cells in tumors—called the tumor microenvironment—upon resistance to chemotherapy and metastasis. They have shown that both tumor-promoting and tumor-killing monocytes, a type of white blood cell, are attracted to cancer cells after chemotherapy. They have developed a promising strategy to shift the balance toward the tumor-killing type.
This year’s Gladowsky Foundation golf outing, to be held July 16 at the Cold Spring Harbor Country Club in Huntington, will benefit Dr. Tonks’ breast cancer research. He is focusing on PTP1B, an enzyme that he discovered and has found to play a key role in regulating other proteins. Tonks said that there is much interest in developing drugs targeting PTP1B to treat HER2-positive breast cancers.
Tonks explained that mice that produce too much HER2 protein in breast tissue develop many breast tumors, which tend to spread to the lungs. It has been shown that when mice expressing HER2 were mated with genetically altered mice that do not produce the PTP1B protein, the resulting mice developed fewer breast tumors and lung metastases. Conversely, mice that produced high amounts of PTP1B protein had more breast tumors. These results suggest that drugs that inhibit PTP1B may prove to be effective therapies in HER2-positive breast cancers.
Tonks and Egeblad expressed their gratitude for support from the Gladowsky Foundation for these research studies, and said they looked forward to reporting in a future meeting on the results of clinical trials based on the research the Foundation has supported.
“We started this foundation for two reasons—to keep our mother’s memory alive, and to raise money for breast cancer research,” said Jason Gladowsky. “We are very happy to hear about the progress being made at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which will hopefully bring us closer to finding a cure for breast cancer.” His sister, Alison Deblinger-Gladowsky, added: “We enjoyed meeting everyone. We work hard and it’s gratifying to see how it pays off.”
For more information about Joni Gladowsky Breast Cancer Foundation events, please visit www.jonisfund.org.
September Update: The Joni Gladowsky Breast Cancer Foundation’s July 16 golf outing raised $50,000 to support breast cancer research at CSHL.
Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program annually hosts more than 12,000 scientists. The Laboratory’s education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and the DNA Learning Center with programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit www.cshl.edu