About the project
This project aims to identify new biological markers (biomarkers) which will allow us to predict which patients are likely to respond to current chemotherapy for aggressive breast cancers called ‘triple negative’ . This means we can treat patients more effectively and reduce side effects from drugs that probably won’t work.
I am a senior research fellow in the CCRCB sponsored by Breast Cancer Now. My research career to date has centred on breast cancer, especially triple negative breast cancer, and how we can improve patient care and outcome through translational research.
At the core of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) is interdisciplinary research bringing together academic researchers and a range of clinical specialties including medical oncology, surgery, pathology and genetics. I believe that a precision medicine approach is key to the translation of research from bench to beside. Therefore, my overarching aim is to develop a research group centred on understanding the biology underlying triple negative breast cancer and exploiting this knowledge to develop biomarkers and targeted treatment strategies using a personalised medicine approach. This project would help to accelerate our research findings towards improving patient care.
Why is research needed in this area?
Triple negative breast cancer is the most aggressive form of the disease. To date all patients are treated the same with a cocktail of chemotherapy. We know that some women respond very well while others don’t. However, we have no way of identifying these women before they are treated meaning that their chemotherapy may do very little to treat the cancers but will likely cause all the associated negative side effects.
Significance of this project
In order to improve patient outcome we therefore need to better understand the biology underpinning the disease so we can exploit this to treat patients more efficiently. Biomarkers which predict how a patient will respond to chemotherapy will allow us to personalise treatment for that patient.
By analysing survival data from a large number of triple negative breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy, we have identified potential genes involved in how patients respond. We now want to test our findings in the lab using triple negative breast cancer cells in order to develop a marker which could help cancer clinicians improve current treatment. This could help improve the outcome for women with triple negative breast cancer, currently the subtype with the poorest survival rates.
Goals of the project
To identify genes involved in predicting how patients respond to chemotherapy and to offer doctors opportunities to improve treatments.
What the budget will be spent on?
The money will be used to purchase a screen (based on a technology called siRNA performed on breast cancer cell lines) so that we can assess the potential of a panel of genes to predict patient response.