FGCU researchers working to improve breast cancer treatments

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Credit: WINK News

A group at Florida Gulf Coast University is conducting breast cancer research that will change the game for those who fall victim – and they’re using one item found in almost every kitchen.

42,690. That’s how many people are expected to die from breast cancer this year alone.

Dealing with cancer loss is something Grace Anderson understands. “I’ve had several family members pass away from cancer,” said the undergraduate research assistant at FGCU.

“The idea of being able to contribute to cancer treatments is just really, really important to me.”

Now, she’s part of the team at FGCU that hopes to bring that number down to zero.

“Our focus at the moment is breast cancer because it’s a real killer,” said Dr. Arsalan Mirjafari, an associate professor of chemistry.

“We’re adding to this library or arsenal of treatments that then medical doctors can use to treat patients,” said Dr. Lyndsay Rhodes, an associate professor of biology.

The researchers innovate new breast cancer treatments by creating new chemical compounds out of salt.

Why salt?

“What is our body made out of? Water. So, if you can dissolve something in water better, it will be more efficient in the body as a drug,” Anderson said.

“You don’t want to kill the healthy cell. You just want to specifically and selectively kill the bad cell when it comes to cancer,” Mirjafari said.

They’ve seen some success.

“We’ve tested five chemicals so far and several of them have shown very promising results,” Rhodes said. “So, it’s really early, but we’re really excited about what we might be able to see.”

“Particularly, it was very active towards a very aggressive cancer,” Mirjafari said.

The team has been working on this project for two years. It’s in the research phase, where students and staff create the compounds on a small scale, checking their reactions in the lab and testing them out on actual breast cancer cells.

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