CBS: WUSA-TV Channel 9
Television Coverage: The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
News -- June 5, 2004 8:50AM 


Ø      Dr. Patricia Berg, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, George Washington University School of Medicine

Ø      Audrey Barnes, WUSA 9 News Reporter

BARNES:                       “I have a really important interview that I want to share with you right now -- this is Dr. Patricia Berg from George Washington University Medical Center. And you were one of the recipients of a Komen grant for breast cancer. Tell us about that.”

DR. BERG:                “OK. We’ve been working on a gene that’s called BP1, and we discovered a year ago that this gene is activated in 80% of women with breast cancer.  So we’re continuing those studies and we were very fortunate to get a national Komen grant this year for our research. We’re continuing on and we’ve found more recently that not only is it activated in 80% of women, but we’ve looked at 270 more cases now and we find that as we go from normal women to pre-malignant cases to malignant cases, more and more and more of those cases have activated this gene, and more of the cells in each kind of tumor have activated this gene. So it’s a characteristic apparently of very aggressive tumors.”

BARNES:                   “How will your research help in the discovery of a cure for cancer? Seems like you are so -- on the right track.”

DR. BERG:                “We’re doing several things with the help of Komen. We’re trying to understand why it is that this gene makes cells so aggressive. But also, we’re starting to develop a blood test collaborating with our breast surgeons at George Washington University; and we are looking for drugs to suppress the gene. Now the gene’s also activated, we found, in 89% of the tumors of African-American women, compared with 57% of Caucasian women.”

BARNES:                  “And if you could find that with the blood test, you could aggressively detect cancer earlier?”

DR. BERG:               “Yes, that’s what we’re hoping; and we hope that our findings will be helpful to African-American women, and the large number of Caucasian women who are affected as well. Now we could do a couple things with a blood test.  Not only could we use it, potentially, for early screening, but we could also use it to monitor patients, as they’re being treated, and to follow the levels of BP1 in the blood, which of course, is a much less invasive test than having to have tissue, which is what we’ve been doing in the past.”

BARNES:                  “And when you’re not doing all this research, you and your husband have actually spent the last five years coming down here and running this race.”

DR. BERG:               “Yes, we really enjoy this race and we’ve seen it grow from a small race to this huge 61,000 person race -- it’s always very exciting, and it’s a wonderful cause. I think Komen does a wonderful job at supporting the community, and the survivors and their families, and supporters in general, like I have been in the past, but also the research, which is critical.”

BARNES:                  “You’re one of the recipients, $250,000, grant recipients, from the Komen Foundation.  That’s what we’re all here for, raising money so that researchers like yourself can make these dramatic breakthroughs in the fight against incurring breast cancer.”

DR. BERG:               “That’s right, and I think we are making strides. As you probably know, there’s a drug now on the market called herceptin, which is useful for women who have a gene that’s called HER-2/neu that’s activated in 20-30% of patients, and so this 80%, if we could do something to affect those 80% of women, help them, that would be a big number.”

BARNES:                  “Well Dr. Berg, thank you very much for being here today and we know you’re doing some dramatic and very exciting research at George Washington University. Thank you for sharing it with us.”

DR. BERG:               “Thank you, Audrey.”

BARNES:                  “Leslie, the stories just keep getting better and better -- back to you and Howard in the studio.”