If it's possible to more accurately detect what type of breast cancer a patient has, treatments can then be almost “personalized,” Advanced Medical Research Institute of Canada researcher Dr. Amadeo Parissenti said.
Treatment is already going in this direction, but with more research, it can be further improved, he said.
“In reality there's probably 30 or 40 (types of breast cancer), and the better we can classify, the better we can treat.”
The Luncheon of Hope money will go towards purchasing a new inverted florescent microscope, worth about $100,000.
The microscope will enhance the capacity to visualize more structures than before, giving researchers a better overall picture of cellular responses in breast cancer cells.
It will also be used to visualize the effects of drugs on healthy cells and breast cancer cells, including those which are affected by different drug treatments.
The new microscope allows researchers to look at what's at the bottom of culture plates, instead of the top, said Parissenti.
Most of the tumour cells they're looking at reside at the bottom of the plate, so it's useful not to have to look at them through a layer of culture medium.
The microscope also has the ability to detect florescence, meaning researchers can tag molecules or certain drugs with florescence, and then point the microscope's laser at the sample to detect this molecule.
While AMRIC already owns one of the machines, it's about 17 years old, and not nearly as sensitive as the modern equipment.
The Luncheon of Hope, which celebrated its 15th anniversary Sept. 27, raises funds for the Northern Cancer Foundation's breast cancer initiatives. It has raised $660,000 since its inception.
The chair of the fundraiser's organizing committee said she's excited about the equipment the money she helped to raise is purchasing.
“Every piece of equipment we provide the researchers gives them another tool to enhance the work that they're doing,” Cathy DiPietro said.
She said the money raised through the Luncheon of Hope has helped to advance the treatment of breast cancer.
“Patients are living longer, they're living better lives,” DiPietro said. “It just seems every year they're discovering new ways of treating breast cancer.”
Northern Cancer Foundation executive director Tannys Laughren said it's important to support the work of researchers, as there's a really strong tie between research and patient care.
“The research that was done 15 years ago is impacting patients now in terms of better patient care, efficacy of drugs and treatments,” she said.
“Fifteen years ago, a lot of breast cancers were treated the same way. Now they're each treated individually. It's because of equipment and research that's making that happen.”
Laughren said she can't say enough about the Luncheon of Hope organizing committee.
“It is important to remember they're 100 per cent volunteer, and they have raised $600,000 plus in 15 years,” she said. “That's astounding.”
2014 Luncheon of Hope
The Luncheon of Hope organizing committee is already busy planning the next luncheon, which takes place Sept. 26, 2014. To learn about participating in next year's event, or to purchase tickets, phone 705-523-HOPE(4673).The $55,000 raised by this year's Luncheon of Hope fundraiser will go towards a piece of equipment used by local researchers to further sub-classify the types of breast cancer.