More than a decade ago, I asked researchers why so much of the breast cancer research was being done on rats and mice when they don’t naturally get breast cancer! They responded that they didn’t study women because they didn’t know where to find them. I responded that I did!
We put out the call and people like you helped our Foundation build a 385,000-volunteer army of women and men, with and without breast cancer—who are willing to participate in breast cancer research.
The time has come to #savethemice – because if we are going to understand the cause and prevention of breast cancer in people, we have to go beyond the mouse, and do the research on people.
The human breast is the only organ that we are not born with. We start with stem cells behind the nipple which blossom into breast ducts as the breast mounds make their entrance under the influence of the hormones of puberty. However, mouse breasts are quite different. Mice only have one duct for each teat, and their breasts only develop during pregnancy and then regress back to normal.
Mice don’t even naturally develop breast cancer! So why is the vast majority of research on breast cancer today still conducted on mice and rats?
One of the main reasons is mice are easier and cheaper to obtain, manipulate, and study. Researchers are drawn to animal models—because they can control all of the variables. While that approach may lead to sound scientific experiments, it doesn’t always translate to women. It is just not good enough.
There really is no question about it. If we are going to understand how to prevent and treat breast cancer in people, we have to also conduct research on people!
Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Army of Women® is a large email list of people with and without breast cancer who are willing to hear about opportunities to participate in research. Researchers contact us and if their study passes the review of our scientific advisory board, we send it out to everyone! Our members may share the study with friends and family to broaden its reach. We have already successfully recruited for more than 145 studies and helped more than 300 researchers worldwide.
Without the Army of Women®, without you, this research may not have been as well-supported.
We are unique among non-institutional breast cancer nonprofits because we also do our own research. These efforts are always done in collaboration and focus on novel questions and ideas that have been ignored by the general research population.
• Our NIH-funded ultrasound project uses portable ultrasound units and artificial intelligence in Mexico, to triage palpable lumps allowing the most suspicious to be identified right away while the clearly benign lumps are left in place.
• Our study of the microbiome uses real women’s’ nipple aspirate fluid to identify the bacteria and viruses in the breast ducts (where breast cancer starts), with the hope that we will be able to identify a specific microbe in the cancer duct and not in the normal one.
• Our 3-D model Mapping of the Breast Ducts is a project with QT Ultrasound and the Jet Propulsion Lab to map real women’s breast ducts.
You have choices! You can donate to someone who will then pass it on to researchers. The problem is, that approach leads to scientific papers but not always cures! We must go beyond the mouse to focus on the people who experience the disease.
We all want to save human lives and end breast cancer in our lifetimes—and the best path forward is to save the mice and study people.