Cancer research and medical equipment comes with hefty prices tags. Courtesy image
By NANCY PARTRIDGE
Between training for the Los Alamos Relay for Life 5K Aug. 25, the Susan G Komen 3-Day 60-mile walk in Seattle Sept. 14 -16 and the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Santa Fe Oct. 6, I’m putting hundreds of miles on my shoes.
Shoes only last about 400 miles before they wear out. The outsole system begins to break down like tread on car tires. The midsole, where the cushioning and support are located, compresses.
Rose Nyenhuis at Fusion MultiSport knows what equipment I need for training. Saturday when I walked into her shop she remembered what brand of shoes work for my feet, and had a pair in the right size. It only took about 15 minutes from the time I walked in to the time I left with a pair of Sauconys and three pairs of running socks.
Fitted running socks can make the difference in whether or not you get blisters. The right socks wick sweat, provide compression, and reduce friction. Good, quality running socks can cost $15-$20 per pair, but they are worth every penny if you don’t get blisters on a 60-mile walk. Socks can be the difference between healthy feet and feet that look like raw bleeding hamburger.
The same is true for equipment for breast cancer research. The right equipment can be expensive, but it makes the difference between a discovery and another day without answers. Most researchers depend on grants to be able to purchase the right equipment for their labs.
According to news site Ars Technica, research labs cost between $1 million and $1.5 million to set up and run for two years, depending on whether it is a university lab or an outgrowth of a going venture. And for university labs, when the school retains 45 percent of any grant funds for overhead costs such as electricity and office support staff, it can be almost impossible to fund research.
Local resident Nancy Patridge walks to help raise money for cancer research. Courtesy image
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) has a database of university research currently funded by its grants. In 2016 there were 1,829 breast cancer projects receiving partial funding in its portfolio.
The NIH NCI admits that only one in five research requests receive funding.
Similarly, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation can only currently fund 275 research projects, in 15 countries. Funds are limited. One of the most recent successes in research is the development of CDK4/6 inhibitors. These are a new class of drugs that have doubled progression-free survival for many women with ER-positive, metastatic breast cancer. They work by blocking two enzymes called CDK4 and CDK6 that are involved in cell growth.
The CDK4/6 target is not unique to ER-positive breast cancer or even breast cancer. Efforts are ongoing to add CDK4/6 inhibitors to other treatment regimens for triple negative and HER2-positive breast cancer, as well other types of cancer, and to test them in the adjuvant setting to prevent metastasis following standard treatment.
Research is paying off, but it is expensive. Just a few of the smaller expenses of running a lab:
- Micro centrifuge tubes for autoclaves are single-use and run $52 for 500, which can be a one-month supply. Re-useable glass tubes that are suitable for tissue culture work and general bacteriological use can cost $500 for 500.
- An inverted microscope for running tissue cultures can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000, depending on the features. Laser scanning microscopes for deep imaging biological tissues cost closer to $10,000.
- Annual service contracts that cover maintenance for equipment can range from a $5,000 on an analytical ultracentrifuge to $100,000 or more on a state of the art transmission cryo-electron microscope.
There are six weeks left to train for the 60-mile three-day in Seattle, and thanks to Fusion MultiSport, I have the equipment I need. More importantly, cancer researchers need funding for their equipment, and that’s one of the reasons I’m walking.
About the author: Nancy Partridge is a native of Los Alamos. She learned to walk about a year after being born at Los Alamos Medical Center. For information on the American Cancer Society Los Alamos Relay for Life Aug. 25, go to https://www.facebook.com/American-Cancer-Society-Relay-for-Life-Los-Alamos-1764630063803786/; or if you are interested in donating to, or joining Team Nancy on either fundraising walk, go to: www.the3day.org/goto/NancyPartridge (Susan G Komen 3-Day 60-mile walk in Seattle Sept. 14-17); or http://main.acsevents.org/goto/npartridge (Avon & American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Santa Fe Oct. 6.