One University of Arkansas professor has made it her mission to find a cure for a very aggressive form of the disease.
In our Pink Courage report, we look at how Dr. Tameka Jennings is making strides in potentially developing a treatment with the help of Komen Ozark.
Doctor Tameka Jennings has poured her heart into breast cancer research.
“I dediced that when I grew up I would do something to stop breast cancer,” said Dr. Jennings.
Her driving force is very personal – her late grandmother.
“She would tell us stories about her sister who died of breast cancer and it was devastating to our family unit and I saw a lot of hurt by talking with her,” said Dr. Jennings.
For the past five years, a lab at the University of Arkansas has become a hub of hope. Dr. Jennings is working on a cure for triple negative breast cancer.
“It’s extremely aggressive. It’s very metastatic and most of the time at the time of diagnosis it’s very late stage,” said Dr. Jennings.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer develops quickly and spreads from the breast to the brain. Once it compromises the nervous system – a patient has about six months left to live.
“It would be remarkable if we could identify a cure,” said Dr. Jennings.
So far, Dr. Jennings and her students have identified possible proteins responsible for triple negative breast cancer using mice.
“We injected the breast cancer cells inside the mouse model, allowed them to go into circulation in the blood and develop brain tumors and we were able to identify at least one of those proteins that are vital to the process of mesastisis,” said Dr. Jennings.
The next step is to find a way to block those proteins from spreading inside the body. 15-percent t of annual breast cancer cases are triple negative with many resulting in death.
“About 25 to 46 percent of triple negative breast cancer cases will have brain metastasis,” said Dr. Jennings.
“African-American women, Latino women, and women under the age of 40 are more likely than not to have triple negative breast cancer,” said Dr. Jennings.
Dr, Jennings knows it won’t be easy to eradicate the disease but is working tirelessly to make it happen.
“I’m one of the soldiers in the army to cure breast cancer,” said Dr. Jennings.
Susan G. Komen Ozark helps fund and support Dr. Jennings’ research as she fights to help women in our communities.