Komen awards $1 million grant to tissue bank at IU Simon Cancer Center


INDIANAPOLIS -- (May 4, 2009) -- Thanks to a $1 million research grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center will continue its unique mission to collect and share healthy breast tissue specimens with researchers worldwide to help understand how breast cells turn cancerous.

The grant will enable the tissue bank -- the nation’s first and only healthy breast tissue bank -- to add to its tissue collection from more than 450 women and blood samples from more than 4,500.

"We are the only collection of this much normal tissue in the world," Anna Maria Storniolo, M.D., co-principal investigator of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center, said. "There's no question that is a unique and incredibly precious resource."

Just over a year ago, Komen for the Cure provided a $1 million research grant to help the tissue bank get started.

Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Walter Reed Medical Army Institute already are using specimens from the bank.

“In breast cancer, in order to figure out what is abnormal, you have to be able to compare it to normal.Because of that, the normal controls from the Komen Tissue Bank are incredibly important,”  Storniolo said.

“Research studies help us do more than develop new treatments. They also advance our understanding of how breast cancer develops in the first place, which can lead to new ways to detect or prevent the disease.This tissue bank is a unique opportunity for women to participate in and contribute to the research process,” Diana Rowden, vice president of Health Sciences for Komen, said.

By collecting blood and tissue from women with and without breast cancer, researchers will be able to determine the differences between these populations, which could lead to a better understanding of the disease. Blood and tissue samples taken from women without the disease are especially helpful because there are few collections of so-called "normal" specimens. 

In order to identify the changes cells undergo as they transition from normal to malignant, and to detect the earliest indication of malignant transformation, it is vital to obtain and study "true normal" breast cells.

For more information about the Susan G. Komen for the CureTissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center, visit www.komentissuebank.iu.edu.