University of Toledo professor working on cutting edge cancer research

Published: Sep. 28, 2018 at 5:33 PM EDT
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An update to a story we first told you about earlier this week. The University of Toledo just got a major investment to fund cutting edge research at the school. Susan G. Komen of Northwest Ohio is investing nearly half a million dollars to fund research into new treatments for a specific kind of breast cancer.

Triple Negative Breast Cancer can be more aggressive and tougher to treat than other breast cancers. It's also more likely to spread and come back. A professor at UT has identified a new drug that's showing promise even in cases where the patient has developed resistance to conventional chemotherapy.

Dr. Amit Tiwari started his research on TNBC more than a decade ago. He He is an Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy. He believes that by targeting the cancer cells in a non-conventional way, it's possible to increase survival rates and overcome multi-drug resistance, "The idea is to design and develop molecules that can target and treat Triple Negative Breast Cancer and drug resistant factors that can cause the disease to spread."

Thanks to the money from Komen, that research is getting closer to coming out of the lab and going into clinical trials, "It's a three-year grant and each year we are getting $150,000. We are looking at 3-5 years for the molecule to actually benefit patients."

Statistics show that about 15% of breast cancer is triple negative

It's more likely to affect younger people, African Americans, Hispanics and those with a BRCAI gene mutation. Dr. Tiwari has a team of graduate students who are part of the research.

Angelique Nyinawabera is part of the research team at UT. She is from Rwanda, "We want those patients to know they are not fighting alone. They have scientists all over the world working night and day to come up with a cure."

Angelique is in her fourth year as a PhD student at UT, "Knowing that people who are close to me are struggling and having to go through this journey is what keeps me going. It's what gets me out of the bed in the morning. I know I have to keep going to school, keep reading and doing research and one day we'll come up with a cure."

Dr. Tiwari says because of investments like the one from Komen of Northwest Ohio, we are hearing the words cure and cancer in the same sentence more and more, "I absolutely believe cancer is curable. There are challenges and things we don;t understand right now. But we are definitely going to find a cure for this soon." What's happening in this UT lab could one day be a big part of helping make that happen.

Dr. Tiwari says if this research is fast tracked it could be in clinical trials in less than two years, but that will take more money.

One way to be a part of generating those research dollars is The Race for the Cure which is this Sunday in downtown Toledo. There is also a race in Findlay Saturday.

Since 1994 the Komen Northwest Ohio chapter has invested more than $13 million in local breast cancer programs.

We've posted a link with all the information.