Breast Cancer Awareness – Covid-19 Antibody Data is Still Being Collected at the Research Center for Future Science

When COVID-19 was a brand-new threat, no one could forecast how it would create difficulties months or even years after infection.

According to Senior Biobank Director Stella Somiari, antibody testing was performed every three months on two distinct groups in partnership with the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center to collect data.

The first group consists of breast cancer patients at the center.

The others are research center staff who do not have cancer.

According to Somiari, the idea was to undertake antibody surveillance studies to see how both responded.

“We knew time was important because once (COVID-19) is gone, you can’t get the same sample,” she explained.

And by testing people over time — in this example, every three months for three years — the institute was able to see and document who had been vaccinated, who had been infected with the virus, and how frequently they had been infected.

They were able to trace how people reacted to an infection, discovering examples where some people had never had COVID-19 and others had it three times, she explained.

“The idea is to see what we can learn,” she explained.

When the study is finished next year, the institute will have enough samples to study both the short- and long-term impacts of COVID-19, according to officials.

In this situation, the data will most likely be used for studies that will take years to complete.

Scientists and health officials all across the world are already keeping an eye on developments in people who have long-term health issues like organ failure and cognitive fog.

Separately, it was found early on that person with cancer are more likely to develop issues if infected with COVID-19 because they may be immunocompromised — and have other underlying risks such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

Somiari believes that more research into how cancer patients were affected is needed.

“But you can’t start collecting until then,” she continued.

Honored Principal Investigator

The institute’s scientific director, Hai Hu, was honored this year for his work on The Cancer Genome Atlas, a molecular level of 33 rare or sometimes difficult-to-treat malignancies.

Hu won the James J. Leonard Award for Clinical or Translational Research for his paper “An Integrated TCGA Pan-Cancer Clinical Data Resource to Drive High-Quality Survival Outcome Analytics.”

Hu is an associate professor in the Department of Surgery at Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, and a molecular institute partner for the breast care clinical project in collaboration with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The award honors a faculty member who has “made the most significant published scientific contribution to clinical/translational research in the previous three years.”

Hu expressed pride that the published findings have had a “significant impact” on the research community.

But, according to Hu, it was a true “team” approach that made it all possible.

“It’s also recognition of all the hard work of my fellow researchers and support workers at the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine,” he said.

Jianfang “Jeff” Liu, a senior statistical analyst at the Windber Institute, was the study’s principal author and did much of the data analysis, according to Hu.

Dr. Craig D. Shriver, Director of the John P. Murtha Cancer Center Research Program, is also recognized for establishing the critical groundwork for their research.

“This recognition is crucial to all of our staff and the complete (our) team,” Hu remarked.

This is consistent with the center’s larger mission, which includes at least ten active research initiatives and the institute’s active biobank.

According to him, the majority of that work involves project partners from different centers in the United States.

“We all collaborate,” Hu stated.

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