Salt Lake City-based Kneaders Bakery & Café recently announced that it will partner with the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) during the month of September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, on a campaign to fight childhood cancer, which 43 children in Americas are diagnosed with every day.
Dr. Joshua Schiffman, M.D., with HCI and the University of Utah, is conducting groundbreaking research into elephant DNA that may unlock the cure to childhood cancer. Elephants almost never get cancer because they have 40 copies of a gene that prevents tumors. Humans only have two.
Throughout the month of September, all 52 Kneaders locations throughout the Western region will be selling elephant-shaped sugar cookies. One-hundred percent of the sales will go toward Schiffman's research. This funding is important because the National Cancer Institute spends 96 percent of its research on adult cancers.
"Our grandson was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma at the age of 13. Raising awareness to the increased need for pediatric cancer funding hits extremely close to home," says Colleen Worthington, co-founder of Kneaders. "We believe it's important to kick-start a conversation around this gap and are proud to do so with the support of HCI and Dr. Schiffman."
According to Schiffman, elephants have 100 times as many cells as people. Therefore, they should be 100 times more likely to have a cell slip into a cancerous state and trigger the disease over their long life span of 50 to 70 years. He has found that the secret may lie in the number of the tumor suppressor gene – TP53 – found in elephant DNA. Elephants have 40 copies of this gene; humans only have two. Through this research, Schiffman and his team are working to transfer what they've discovered with elephants, to humans, eventually preventing childhood cancers.
"I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma as a child," says Dr. Schiffman. "I know not only what it's like to be a child facing something that doesn't seem fair or right, but also the worry and angst of a parent given my current role as a doctor. This campaign may seem like a small gesture, but it's a step forward to the thousands of families each year who are informed their child may have cancer."
Members of the public can show their support for this campaign in three ways. The elephant-shaped sugar cookie will be available at all Kneaders locations for in-store purchases. Customers will also be invited to make donations by rounding up their total purchase to the nearest dollar amount or adding a specified dollar amount to their purchase. Lastly, customers may donate online at www.kneaders.com/fightcancer.
The Huntsman Institute and Kneaders hope to raise more than $50,000 throughout the month of September.