Life-saving breast cancer discoveries happening right now in Augusta

Augusta, GA (WJBF) - Pink might as well be a fall color. You are likely used to seeing lots of pink during the month of October for breast cancer awareness.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation estimates more than 40,000 people will die from the disease this year. However, more people are beating the diagnosis than in the past largely due to better treatment. Some of those innovative new options originated in Augusta at The Medical College of Georgia.


Dr. Hasan Korkaya is a tumor biologist at the Georgia Cancer Center and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Dr. Korkaya has studied breast cancer for 16 years.


“[I’ve been] spending long hours in the lab and trying to understand what makes cells grow first,” Dr. Korkaya says. “The second and the most important thing is how they disseminate from the primary site.”


Recently, his team of researchers discovered that a process proven to cause self-destruction in certain cancers can help other cancers survive and even get stronger.


“Some tumor cells, not only they don’t die when they are treated with the TNFα, they become much more aggressive,” explains Dr. Korkaya. “That’s what we show in the papers, they become more aggressive and they become more metastatic.”


In their studies, they also found a work around that they hope will reverse this process.


“[We] combine the immunotherapy with the drug that targets the pathway I just mentioned,” describes Dr. Korkaya, “and then the tumor size was 10 times maybe 20 times less.”


This finding could also help treat some of the deadliest forms of breast cancer in the future.


“Hopefully in the future this will be our recommendation to clinicians and perhaps this will be a way to potentially do immunotherapy in breast cancer patients,” Dr. Korkaya says.


CLICK HERE to read more about their recently published paper. 


Dr. Korkaya’s father passed away from cancer a few years ago so his research on breast cancer strikes a personal chord for him. He describes his work as his “passion.”


"If down the line 1 or 10 or whatever women benefit from it—that will be my reward," Dr. Korkaya says.


His studies continue. Right now, they are working to develop a drug that will best fight the cancer-strengthening process they discovered.


For a more in-depth look at live-saving breast cancer research that is happening in Augusta, Watch the Jennie Show on NewsChannel 6 on Tuesday October 9th at 12:30PM.

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