Research News

IU Simon Cancer Center Update - November

Mary A. Maxwell, Development Director, IU Simon Cancer Center
(Monday, December 5, 2011)
Indianapolis, Indiana Researchers are making discoveries every day at the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories at Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. Meet one of the brilliant minds doing her best to find a cure for breast cancer.

Theresa Guise, M.D., travels the globe, manages a multi-million dollar research enterprise and takes care of breast cancer patients who have hard-to-treat bone metastasis and osteoporosis. She’s rarely in one place very long, except when she’s practicing of Iyeungar yoga. Then you’ll find her standing on her head for 10 minutes.

Intense physical exercise has always been a part of her life: basketball, volleyball, scuba diving, cycling and long-distance running. In fact, she has 26 marathons under her feet. “It’s a good way to reduce stress but my body was getting beat up.”

When she attended her first yoga class at the invitation of a fellow in her lab, Theresa was surprised at the difficulty of the poses and the effort she required, as measured in sweat. “It was a good workout.” Now years later, the appeal to her is the mind/body connection the two-hour practice requires. “If you aren’t paying attention to your body in a balancing pose, you’ll fall over. The cerebral connection to the physical action is actually stress relief in a way that I have never experienced.”

The Vera Bradley Advantage
Seven researchers from around the globe have been recruited by Theresa to the IU Simon Cancer Center. Together they study cancer activity in and around bone, with $8 million in grant funding among them. She acknowledges that working with investigators in the Vera Bradley Laboratories for Breast Cancer Research to design clinical trials to prevent or halt bone metastasis, enticed her to move to Indiana.

Vera Bradley Research Update
Theresa Guise’s team is the only one in the world studying how breast cancer affects bone and muscle. She discovered a profound defect in the muscles of mice that have both breast cancer and muscle wasting. She is working to identify the mechanisms responsible for the defect and, perhaps, to disable it. Although muscle mass remains constant with the presence of cancer in the bone, strength is diminished by 50 percent. From human studies, strength does not return.