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AutoNation Cure Bowl Raises $3.3 Million For Breast Cancer Research

Saturday’s third AutoNation Cure Bowl has brought a total of $3,305,000 to cancer research – including almost $1 million to a College of Medicine scientist.

Cure Bowl and College of Medicine leaders, elected officials, cancer survivors and football fans applauded the event, held at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, for increasing awareness and funding for breast cancer research. The AutoNation-sponsored game is the only bowl contest dedicated to a charitable effort. All proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), the largest private founder of breast cancer research worldwide.

BCRF is the only breast cancer organization to receive an A+ rating from Charity Watch and spends 91 cents of every $1 it receives on research into a disease that affects one in eight women.

One of those efforts is led by Dr. Annette Khaled, professor at the College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences and head of the medical school’s cancer research division. Khaled and Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine, were on the field to help accept the giant Cure Bowl check and also helped received a proclamation from Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs. After the presentations, breast cancer survivors carried a giant pink quilt onto the field. The 20-foot-long quilt was made from 250 individual pieces created by AutoNation employees whose lives had been touched by breast cancer.

German and Khaled came to the bowl game after attending UCF’s December graduation, where undergraduate, Masters and Ph.D. students from the Burnett School received their diplomas. One of those graduates was Ana Carr, who earned her Ph.D. working in Khaled’s lab. Carr has now accepted a UCF fellowship to continue those efforts.

“The fight against breast cancer is so connected,” Khaled said as she stood on the field being hugged by Cure Bowl and BCRF officials and cancer survivors. “Thanks to this game and the dollars it raises I can graduate Ana as a Ph.D. and we can continue discovering and investigating. We’re making great progress. And that should give cancer patients and survivors great hope.”

Khaled’s lab has discovered a peptide, CT20, which kills metastatic cells by disrupting the folding mechanism inside cancer cells mediated by a molecular structure called a chaperonin. If the inner workings of the cell can’t fold into three-dimensional units, the cell dies. Metastatic or spreading cancer cells move from the original tumor to the body’s brain, lungs and bones and are what kill most patients. Dr. Khaled’s lab has studied the peptide for stopping metastatic breast cancer cells in animal models and licensed it, with the next step being clinical trials.

Alan Gooch, executive director of the Orlando Sports Foundation, said Khaled has given a local face to cancer research and is proud that proceeds from the game stay in Orlando. “We’re doing our part with the football game and the excitement of a bowl game. Annette is doing her part. All of us are very excited to be behind Annette and what she’s doing at the UCF College of Medicine,” he said.

Saturday’s game featured Georgia State vs. Western Kentucky with Georgia State winning 27-17.

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