I am using this website in conjunction with my fundraiser, Bev's Bash, to raise money to fund a trip to Eldoret, Kenya. In Eldoret, I'll be assisting researchers from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Tissue Bank, a biorepository, obtain normal breast tissue from Kenyan women. The following is information from the project description that the Komen Tissue Bank has developed which describes this project and why it is important to research.
Why Kenyan Women?
Women of African decent are disproportionately affected by a particularly more devastaing form of breast cancer, triple negative breast cancer. While the Komen Tissue Bank currently includes tissue donated from American women of African descent, it is imperative to trace the genetic origins one step further and collect tissue for study from indigenous African women.
Why normal breast tissue?
The Komen Tissue Bank recognizes that in order to understand the origins of breast cancer, we must first understand the normal breast. Since triple negative disease disproportionately affects women of African descent, we must therefore study this population’s normal tissue to develop more effective breast cancer treatment and prevention efforts in the United States, Africa, and elsewhere.
What is Triple Negative Breast Cancer:
Triple negative breast cancer means that the breast cancer cells do not react or grow in the presence of certain hormones or growth factors. Because of this, there are no targeted therapies against it, leading to an especially poor prognosis. Triple negative disease accounts for 39 percent of breast cancers diagnosed in premenopausal African-American women, as compared to only 14 percent of premenopausal breast cancers in Caucasian women. Among indigenous African women, the disparity is even greater.Exactly why women of African descent are more prone to this malicious form of breast cancer is unclear. This question demands increased attention.
The Komen Tissue Bank is in an ideal position to conduct a tissue collection in Kenya. The Indiana University School of Medicine, of which the Bank is a part, has successfully partnered with the Moi University School of Medicine in Eldoret, Kenya. Together they have developed an internationally recognized health care delivery program aimed at fighting the scourge of HIV/AIDS and providing primary care in Western Kenya. AMPATH, as the program is known, is a collaboration between Moi University School of Medicine, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and a consortium of North American academic institutions led by Indiana University School of Medicine. It has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the U.S. government recognized its comprehensive nature and effectiveness by awarding Indiana University a coveted $65 million, five-year grant to help fund it.
As a result of this long-standing partnership, the IU School of Medicine maintains a permanent, substantial presence in Kenya, and numerous faculty, residents and students visit the program throughout the year. There, they work side-by-side with their Kenyan colleagues. The relationships forged with Kenyan health care professionals, government and tribal leaders, and the community at large will facilitate a successful tissue collection event and allow us to collect tissue in a cost-efficient, culturally sensitive manner.
A diagnosis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer is especially devastating. Because we know so little about what drives the disease, there is little that can be done to effectively treat it.
At the Komen Tissue Bank, we recognize that in order to understand the origins of breast cancer, we must first understand the normal breast. Since triple negative disease disproportionately affects women of African descent, we must therefore study this population’s normal tissue. Our proposed tissue collection in Kenya provides an unprecedented opportunity to make such precious samples available to scientists from around the world. The collection will also enable Kenyan women to participate in cancer research in a meaningful way that would not otherwise be available to them and raise awareness about the importance of clinical trials.