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Source: Simon Fraser University

Breast cancer research pushes the envelope

October 16, 2006

Karim Karim, 604.268.6859, (Coquitlam res.)
Sharon Gorski, 604.675.8113, (Vancouver res.)
Lynne Quarmby, 604.291.4474, (North Shore res.)

October 16, 2006

Pioneering research in radiation therapy and cellular manipulation at Simon
Fraser University is pushing the envelope in breast cancer research and
could help improve patients’ quality of life.

Karim Karim, an assistant professor of engineering science, is developing
low-noise, high quality digital X-ray imagers to help Sunnybrook Health
Sciences in Toronto treat women diagnosed early with breast cancer.
Sunnybrook has developed the ability to implant microscopic seeds emitting
low-level radioactive rays in breast tissue.

Karim’s imagers, which he hopes to have ready for patient testing in 2010,
would enable doctors to use Sunnybrook’s radioactive seeds to directly
encircle a tumour. Conventional imaging technology can only approximate the
location of a tumour through multiple X-rays and exploratory operations on
the patient.

Karim notes his collaboration with Sunnybrook "could dramatically reduce the
cancer treatment time and radiation-induced acute skin reactions of women
with early-diagnosed breast cancer."

Sharon Gorski, an adjunct faculty member of molecular biology and
biochemistry, is trying to unlock the biological door to how a cellular
process called autophagy works.

Autophagy guards cells against intrusion by foreign chemicals, even
medicine, and that gets cells to clean up after themselves. During their
lifetime, cells degrade and recycle parts of themselves repeatedly.

In an effort to bypass the human body’s cellular self-control, Gorski is
learning how to control autophagy. "We believe that this process may play a
role in making cancerous breast tissue resist treatment," says Gorski, an
SFU grad researching breast cancer at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Genome
Sciences centre.

Lynne Quarmby, an associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry,
has a hunch that renegade cilia help instigate uncontrolled cellular
division, leading to malignant growths, such as breast cancer.

Cilia are the eyes and ears of almost all cells, helping them make
decisions, such as whether or not to divide, based on their environment.
Quarmby’s lab believes that out-of-control cell division is behind the
development of proliferative diseases, such as breast cancer.

Join Carol Thorbes, SFU public affairs and media relations officer and a
breast cancer survivor, for some thought-provoking discussion about the
politics surrounding breast cancer research at a Philosophers’ Café. Karim
and Gorski will be at the event, which takes place Wednesday, October 25, 7
– 9 p.m., at Renaissance Coffee, Cornerstone building, 8906 High St., SFU



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