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Pedal the Cause 2015

Hear from UC San Diego physicians and patients about what Pedal the Cause means to them.

Pedal the Cause: Annual Fundraiser for Cancer Research

Pedal the Cause is an annual cycling fundraiser in which 100 percent of the net proceeds stay in San Diego to benefit cancer research at the three local National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The goal is to fund research that may lead to a cure for cancer.

The third annual event will take place September 18-20, 2015, featuring courses for any riding ability, from 10 miles up to a two-day ride. Participants can register to ride, become a virtual rider, or volunteer. Register at http://sandiego.pedalthecause.org.

2013 Funding Results: $400,000 for Five Projects

The inaugural 2013 multiday event funded five research projects with grants totaling $400,000. These collaborative research projects highlight the potential for groundbreaking science when institutes work together. The funded research projects include targeting pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest recalcitrant cancers; developing inhibitors for a protein pathway that drives a high percentage of cancer metastasis; and searching for a novel hereditary breast cancer susceptibility gene.

Project 1: Finding New Hereditary Breast Cancer Markers

Only 10 percent of breast cancer cases are linked to BRCA. Lisa Madlensky, PhD, (Moores Cancer Center) and Geoffrey Wahl, PhD, (Salk) are working with a family that is strongly suspected of carrying a hereditary breast cancer gene, even though all members are BRCA-negative. The study aims to find a new susceptibility gene for which families with unexplained hereditary breast cancer can be tested. This information could help determine which family members have the gene and therefore need to be monitored carefully or undertake breast cancer prevention measures, and which family members did not inherit the gene and are considered to be at average risk.

Project 2: Stopping Cancer Growth

The process of secretion by which cells export proteins was not previously known to play an important role in cancer. However, a newly discovered pathway that functions in secretion, named for its key protein GOLPH3, drives a high fraction of cancers that together account for the majority of cancer deaths, making an unprecedented link between secretion and cancer. Seth Field, MD, PhD, (UC San Diego) and Michael Jackson, PhD, (Sanford-Burnham) will collaborate on research to take advantage of this unique pathway as a target for a new class of cancer treatments. They will identify inhibitors of the GOLPH3 pathway to study their potential as novel cancer drugs.

Project 3: Reprogramming Pancreatic Cancer’s Hard Shell

Every day, a San Diegan will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, yet only one in 20 will survive for five years after this diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth deadliest cancer, yet very little progress has been made in fighting the disease over the last 50 years. Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat in part because the cancer grows encased in a thick tissue protective layer called the “activated stroma.” Andrew Lowy, MD, (Moores Cancer Center) and Geoffrey Wahl, PhD, (Salk) will study a novel way to treat this recalcitrant cancer by focusing on smart-drugs that can reprogram the stroma to allow other smart-drugs to attack the cancer inside.

Project 4: Halting Breast Cancer’s Spread

The spread of cancer cells from the primary tumor to distant organs, termed metastasis, is the leading cause of cancer-related death. Even the removal of early-diagnosed primary breast cancer cannot guarantee prevention of metastatic recurrence many years later. Michael Karin, PhD, (Moores Cancer Center) and Geoffrey Wahl, PhD, (Salk) will research ways of halting breast cancer metastasis by inhibiting Ubc13 and p38, enzymes involved in controlling metastatic spread.

Project 5: Discovering Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor Weaknesses

Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) is a cancer that arises from nerve cells that control the movement of muscles in the intestine. Many GISTs have a high level of a protein called KIT, which led to the use of a drug called imatinib that could attack KIT. This became the first targeted, personalized treatment of solid tumors. However, it did not completely cure the disease, because some GISTs don’t have the KIT target or develop a drug-resistant form of KIT. Jason Sicklick, MD, (Moores Cancer Center) and Robert Weschler-Reya, PhD, (Sanford-Burnham) will use advanced screening technology to discover new drugs that can target GISTs resistant to current therapies.