Baylor contributes to understanding of cancerous vs. healthy tissue

Baylor College of Medicine has made a significant contribution in the effort to better understand what causes cancerous tissue to develop.

In February, Baylor, together with the Houston affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the local Pink Ribbons Project organization, helped collect 160 healthy breast tissues for the Komen Tissue Bank at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis – the only repository of healthy breast tissue that exists.

The event was held at the Baylor College of Medicine Medical Center on the McNair Campus.

Women from around the city participated in the event, which included each having a biopsy to allow collection of the sample. With Houston’s diverse population, the samples collected will help researchers understand the differences in how breast cancer affects different minority groups.

“We are so proud of how the Komen benign tissue collection went,” said Dr. Julie Nangia, assistant professor in the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor who served as medical director of the event. “A total of 160 people without breast cancer underwent breast biopsies to help researchers better understand the differences between benign breast tissue and breast cancer tissue.”

Breast cancer researchers from around the world have access to the repository samples to conduct studies that hopefully will translate into novel approaches to treat and prevent breast cancer.

Nangia, along with co-director Dr. Emily Sedgwick, director of breast imaging in the Smith Breast Center at Baylor, led a team of 230 volunteers, including many other Baylor faculty and staff. Sedgwick helped recruit and lead a team of physicians that conducted all the biopsies for tissue collection.

“The tissue collection held in Houston was really fantastic,” said Dr. Anna Maria Storniolo, executive director of the Komen Tissue Bank. “We had a committed medical partner in Baylor, and the diversity of Houston and the friendliness of the people who live there were such a benefit to us.  It would be a shame to build this caliber of connection and not reinforce it – we are planning to come back soon!”

In addition to accessing use of the Komen repository, Baylor was able to keep a portion of the samples to conduct research in its laboratories.