BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - For one researcher at the University of Buffalo, the campaign to raise awareness and money for breast cancer hits very close to home.
Biotech research Kate Rittenhouse Olson has started a cancer therapeutics company, and fighting this disease is truly a personal mission.
"I don't think about cancer in terms of just the cells that we have in a petri dish. I think about it in all the faces of people, like my sister," she said.
Rittenhouse Olson's sister Robin was 26 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and 31 when she died. That was 25 years ago.
"When I was getting my doctorate she was so proud of me and I think more than anybody in my life she acted like she thought what I was doing was important, where I was going was important," Rittenhouse Olson said.
She made a promise that she would find a way to battle this disease.
After working for the last 20 years on a promising anti-cancer drug, she recently founded a company called "For-Robin" to develop the drug, which targets a specific genetic marker.
Rittenhouse Olson explained, "The reason the marker is really important, is that its on 80 percent of these cancer cells including colon, breast, prostate, but it also is involved in how the cancer cells travel. So if we can block how the cancer cells travel with a vaccine or with a drug then the cancer cells won't metastasize. And most people die of metastasis, not their primary tumor."
The drug has shown promising results in preliminary experiments but it could be five years before it goes to human trials. Each step of the way, Rittenhouse Olson remembers her inspiration for her hard work: her sister.
To learn more about For Robin, visit the company website.
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