The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation (SWCRF) is celebrating a second year of partnership with Tadashi Shoji on the annual Pay It Forward Campaign to raise funds for its breast cancer research during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Tadashi Shoji launched the initiative last year by creating a limited-edition mermaid scarf as the centerpiece of the fundraising drive. This year’s showcased design is a beautiful peony embroidered tulle tee that retails for $188.  Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the sale of the shirt and all other products at and at the Tadashi Shoji boutique in South Coast Plaza, CA, will benefit the SWCRF’s breast cancer research programs.

Breast cancer death rates in the United States have steadily declined since the 1990s according to a recent report on cancer trends by the American Cancer Society citing statistics from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  Nevertheless, breast cancer remains the most prevalent cancer type among American women, representing 29 percent of 810,170 new cancer cases estimated for 2015 with lung cancer ranking second at 13 percent.  The lifetime probability of women developing breast cancer is 1 in 8.

The Waxman Foundation has long investigated the causes of breast cancer with a special focus on Triple-Negative Breast Cancer, a particularly aggressive subtype of the disease characterized by the lack of estrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors. TNBC is highly resistant to hormonal therapy and accounts for 10 percent to 20 percent of breast cancer cases. It disproportionately affects African-American women, Latinas and Ashkenazi women. The SWCRF’s team of TNBC researchers are collaborating between The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami to reprogram nonfunctioning genes in TNBC to make them more responsive to hormonal therapy and reduce their ability to spread.


The project’s most recent progress was documented in the medical journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. The researchers, Samuel Waxman, M.D., Ming-Ming Zhou, Ph.D. and Eduardo Farias, Ph.D. of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Arthur Zelent, Ph.D. of the University of Miami, were published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics for identifying avermectins – compounds with insecticidal properties -- as potential inhibitors of the spread of TNBC.  Avermectins have been used safely in millions of people  to kill the parasite that causes River Night Blindness.

The researchers previously targeted mutated TNBC epigenetics using a peptide that modulated genes associated with epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT), a genetic process that promotes the spread of cancer cells. Their follow-up research identified two compounds that could serve as inhibitor agents, selamectin and ivermectin, both of which induced expression of the tumor suppressor gene CDH1 and the transcription factor ESR1 in human and mouse TNBC cells, restoring the cells’ sensitivity to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.

“We feel encouraged by our recent findings that avermectins are a potential therapeutic agent to block the spread of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer and are excited to enter the next phase of our research,” said Dr. Samuel Waxman, Founder and CEO of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. “Cause marketing programs like Pay It Forward make our progress possible and we are deeply grateful to Tadashi Shoji for his partnership as we work to develop new treatments for TNBC and other breast cancer types.”

To learn more about the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s funded breast cancer programs, click here.