A Turkish science woman, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Duygu Sağ (37), is deemed worth of L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Science Women. Sağ has studies on cancer and immunity system and says: “I dream of a world without cancer. I believe my dream will be realized one day.”
Throughout the world, science women are supported by prizes awarded by L’ORÉAL and UNESCO since 20 years. Every year, 15 science women below 40 years of age are awarded with this prize due to their contributions made to development of different areas in science. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Duygu Sağ, a Faculty Member in 9 Eylül University and one of the senior researchers of İzmir Biomedicine and Genom Centre, nominated for the International Rising Talents Prize of L’Oréal Turkey, took the prize of 15 thousand Euro to her laboratory this year. Besides Assoc. Prof. Dr. Duygu Sağ, 14 other science women selected from among 275 researchers from 117 countries are granted their prizes in a ceremony organized in UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Duygu Sağ is accompanied by her husband Gerhard Wingeuder, and her son Deniz of 2.5 years of age, and her uncle Ender Soyuak in the ceremony.
Believing particularly that immunotherapy (treatment of immunity system) will become the main method in treatment of cancer in the future, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sağ’s studies are future-promising for treatment of various types of cancer, in particular bladder, ovarian, breast and prostate cancers.
Conducting studies in her laboratory in order to convert the immunity system cells presently enlarging the tumour into warrior cells, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sağ says: “Every day many micro tumours are developed in our body, and our immunity cells are eliminating these tumours before they further grow and turn into cancer. But the cancer cells are very clever, and are managing to neutralize and inactivate immune cells and escape from them. However, our body is equipped by an army very strong in strategic terms which is indeed ready to fight cancer. But our soldiers have already been disarmed and demilitarized. Now, by immunotherapy, what we are doing is rearmament of soldiers of our army.” Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sağ is studying ‘macrophages’, one of the important cells of our immunity system. M1s, as good macrophages, are fighting against tumour. But tumour allies with some other macrophages, i.e. M2s. Then, M2 macrophages start to work for tumour. They play a key role in its growth and development. The goal of this research is to transform macrophages from M2 type supporting the tumour into M1 type fighting against it.
I HAVE PERSONALLY SUFFERED FROM CANCER
Having lost her father due to lymphoma, and her grandmother and aunt due to ovarian cancer, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sağ gave a speech in the prize-giving ceremony: “In fact, our body is equipped by an army very strong in strategic terms which is indeed ready to fight cancer, but our soldiers have already been disarmed and demilitarized. Now, by immunotherapy, what we are doing is rearmament of our cells, i.e. soldiers of our army. I have personally suffered from cancer. With our available know-how, it is not possible for us to give an end to cancer tomorrow. But tomorrow we may make such a discovery that everything may change. That is why I am full of hope. Tomorrow, we can find out something and open very different doors. My dream is a world without cancer and I believe my dream will be realized one day.”