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The DONNA Foundation funds ‘game-changing’ research equipment for the Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is one of only four academic centers worldwide to get the new technology.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are one step closer to ending breast cancer thanks to funds donated by The DONNA Foundation.

The DONNA Foundation contributed $175,250 to help the Mayo Clinic purchase a NanoString GeoMX Digital Spatial Profiling machine. The Mayo Clinic is one of only four academic centers in the world chosen to receive the equipment.

“It’s amazing to see, in living color, what’s becoming possible,” Donna Deegan said.

The technology allows researchers to see what is going on within cells at levels never before attainable.

“Curing cancer is going to come down, I think in most cases, to our ability to activate our immune cells,” said E. Aubrey Thompson, Ph.D., professor of cancer biology at Mayo Clinic. “To do that, we have to really understand the biology. We have to understand how tumor cells interact with immune cells, how tumor cells suppress the activity of immune cells, what immune cells are doing good work, [and] what immune cells are doing bad work.”

That is exactly what the NanoString GeoMX does. 

“This is really gonna tell us which cells are really involved in the immune response and how we need to target them,” Thompson said.

Thompson told First Coast News the equipment could not have been purchased without help from The DONNA Foundation.

Deegan said the new technology is proof that every stride counts.

“That’s what I want people to keep in their minds as they’re out there taking steps, is that this is what we’re working toward,” Deegan said. “We are, with every step, getting closer and closer to actually solving this thing.”

While Thompson said this alone is not a cure, it does bring us one step closer to finding one.

“Not today,” he said. “But like the marathon, it’s a long run.”