NIH awards $1.48 million grant to Tuskegee University for breast cancer research

NIH awards $1.48 million grant to Tuskegee University for breast cancer research
A $1.4 million grant awarded by the NIH to researchers at Tuskegee University will go a long way toward fighting breast cancer through new therapies that target metastatic breast cancer. (Getty Images)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $1.48 million to the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine for breast cancer research. Deepa Bedi, is an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and is the principal investigator for the four-year program entitled, “Evaluation of HSPD1 (Heat Shock Protein, 60) as a theranostic target for breast cancer.” Bedi will evaluate the role of the protein in the progression of breast cancer.

Deepa Bedi (Tuskegee University)

“I aim to use this protein as a marker of TNBC progression as well as a target to deliver anti-cancer drugs to this highly aggressive and metastatic cancer. This grant will provide the necessary resources to fulfill this hypothesis and be able to contribute to the knowledge and cure of TNBC, particularly in African American women,” Bedi said.

“We are proud of the contributions that Bedi will make to biomedical research as she translates the discoveries and observations into therapies in her cancer laboratory in the college,” said Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “The data and information gained from this newly funded research study will heighten awareness and enhance the cancer research program here at Tuskegee University.”

“We are also appreciative to Dr. Shaik Jeelani, vice president for research and dean of the graduate school, for his support of our faculty and their pursuits of research studies that are relevant to animal and human health,” Perry said. “Biomedical research, in particular breast cancer, is one of our signature research programs here at the university.”

Bedi’s work in cancer research was previously funded by a $441,000 three-year NIH grant in 2016. She coordinates many efforts across campus with Dr. Clayton Yates, director of the Center for Cancer Research at Tuskegee University.

Previously, using phage display technology in Bedi’s cancer biomarker discovery and therapeutics lab, she discovered heat shock protein 60 to be highly expressed, and to have a higher expression in Blacks with breast cancer as compared to white Americans.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine says breast cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers and the leading global cause of cancer death in women, accounting for 23% of cancer diagnoses – 1.38 million women – and 14% of cancer deaths – 458,000 women – each year. Triple-negative breast cancers occur in 10% to 15% of patients, yet this disease subtype accounts for almost half of all breast cancer deaths and represents a highly aggressive and metastatic phenotype, specifically among Black women.

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