Virginia Tech researchers developing new potential treatment for breast cancer

Local News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR)– Virginia Tech’s Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke is helping to develop a potential new treatment to fight breast cancer. 

Recently, the university received a one-year grant through U.S. Small Business Administration for nearly $400,000 dollars to further research into possible treatments with Acomhal Research Incorporated. 

“For 40 percent of women with triple-negative breast cancer, the most aggressive type of breast cancer, the cancer will come back and spread – even after the tumor is resected and treated with chemotherapy or radiation,” Virginia Tech announced. 

Researchers say this potential treatment would work with chemo treatments to help those battling breast cancer. 

Assistant Professor at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech, Dr. Samy Lamouille, elaborated on what the peptide does: “Cancer stem cells are resistant to chemotherapy, and our peptide drug can target those cancer stem cells that escape chemotherapy.” 

Dr. Lamouille has more than a decade of experience in cancer research. He says this potential treatment could lengthen remission for patients fighting breast cancer. 

“We have to take this path even if it’s a long and challenging path, to try to bring the treatment to the market to help patients,” Dr. Lamouille explained. 

Erin Baldwin, a kindergarten teacher battling breast cancer, says patients should have a voice when developing new treatments. 

“Hear the patients and consider them when you’re doing these, when you have these trial, and creating these drugs, and creating these treatments, you know, what is the quality of life of that person going to be?” Baldwin asked. 

Baldwin was first diagnosed in December and still remembers what looking in a mirror felt like.

“All at once it kind of hit me how different I looked, and how if I had seen myself a year ago how different it would have been, and how I never could’ve expected to look the way that I look now.” 

At 37-years-old, Baldwin has had to undergo a double mastectomy. 

“Just in a matter of months, I had, you know, gained, mastectomy scars, gained a port, lost my hair,” she explained. 

Baldwin decided to freeze her eggs to increase her opportunity to have children, after recently tying the knot. 

“We just had our two year anniversary, and so we had been talking about starting a family, but this sort of came up as like a threat to that,” she said.

However, with new treatments coming out, Baldwin says she is hopeful for the future.

“I am very optimistic that hopefully, I’ll be able to have a child one day.” 

According to Dr. Lamouille, it will likely take more than ten years before the peptide can be used to treat patients, but right now, researchers are testing stem cells. He also says some trials have been done for some forms of brain cancer. 

“We’ve shown that this drug has promising therapeutic properties in treating aggressive brain cancers, but we want to know if it can prevent other invasive cancers from spreading, starting with triple-negative breast cancer,” Dr. Lamouille explained. 

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