Research done at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital doesn’t just stay in Memphis or even in the United States. It’s helping kids fight cancer worldwide.
Dr. Emilia Pinto is a molecular biologist and research lab specialist who studies tumors that form on adrenal glands in children. A native of Brazil, she joined St. Jude seven years ago. Her interest in fighting the disease began when she noticed something unusual.
“Pediatric adrenocorticol tumors is a very rare disease. In the USA we have about three to four cases a year. But in Brazil we have 50 times higher incidence,” said Pinto.
Pinto began working with other researchers in Brazil to study the disease closely. They found the patients carried a unique mutation of the B53 gene which is passed down through families. The research revealed those children and adults have a much higher risk of developing cancer.
"When a person is born with a B53 mutation, we never know the age or the kind of tumor," said Pinto. "We know there is always a risk for cancer."
Right now there is no way to prevent cancers caused by the mutation, but the research is helping doctors find new ways to treat them and give families hope.
"Now we are looking to kids when they are born. We look for the presence of this mutation and at least we can catch the tumor in a very early stage," said Pinto.
St. Jude plays a vital role in making this happen.
"Here we have opportunity, we have real cases and consultations and we have people, we have a lot more opportunities to learn about this disease," said Pinto.
It's making a difference in the U.S. and in her native Brazil.
"They don't need to restart again. We already have data to show that you need to do this or you need to do that. Pay attention to this, pay attention to that," said Pinto.
This costly research is freely shared with doctors and researchers across the globe. Donations to St. Jude through Dream Home tickets and other fundraisers are vital to keep the research going.
"It costs a lot for us and it comes from the money that people donate to us," said Pinto.
In Tennessee, tickets are available online, by phone at 1-800-750-6962 or at Regions Bank locations in Tennessee. Georgia residents can purchase tickets by phone or at a Regions Bank location in Tennessee.
Each ticket costs $100. A limited number of tickets are available and the past two giveaways have sold out early.
The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway is one of the largest single-event fundraisers for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. It generates more than $290 million for the research and treatment of childhood cancer.