Nav: Home

Manchester researchers announce new methods of beating breast cancer

October 01, 2007

University of Manchester researchers will reveal new ways of controlling and treating breast cancer at the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Birmingham today (Monday 1 October 2007).

Dr Robert Clarke and his team at the University's Cancer Studies research group have been investigating human breast cancers for the presence of stem cells - cells that generate new tumours and can cause the cancer to recur - in a series of studies funded by the charity Breast Cancer Campaign.

One third of women who are successfully treated for breast cancer find that the disease recurs some years later because some of these cancer cells survive the treatment and begin to grow again.

The team's research into these 'breast cancer stem cells' revealed that the cells are stimulated by the Notch gene. The team, who published the study in Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is now hoping to develop new drug therapies to target this gene and thus stop the growth of any surviving breast cancer stem cells.

One drug that is known to attack Notch is already used for the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease so, having undergone health and safety checks, its clinical trial for use on breast cancer patients could be speeded up and lead to a treatment in hospital clinics within a few years. Herceptin, by contrast, took more than 15 years to go from the discovery of its gene target to treatment.

The team is also aiming to identify other new pathways of controlling breast cancer stem cells by using a genetic library to shut down other genes at random to see how it affects them, in a study with Rene Bernards at the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

The team, along with Professor Tony Whetton, are using a state-of-the-art mass-spectrometry based proteomics facility at the Paterson Institute of Cancer Research to identify proteins that control breast cancer stem cells. The facility - one of only a few in the UK - enables them to break up breast cancer stem cell proteins and analyse the sequence of amino acids to identify novel proteins that control the cells' growth.

Dr Clarke says: "Our work has revealed the importance of several pathways not previously known to regulate stem cell survival and self-renewal, which is tremendously exciting. Inhibitors of signalling pathways that regulate cancer stem cells could represent a new therapeutic modality in breast cancer, to be used in combination with current treatments in the near future."

-end-

For more information, a copy of the paper or to arrange an interview with Professor Robert Clarke, please contact NCRI press officer at the conference press suite or University of Manchester Media Relations Officer Mikaela Sitford on 07768 980942.

Editor's Note:

The University of Manchester team: Professor Robert Clarke, Dr Gillian Farnie and Professor Nigel Bundred (Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences) and Dr Keith Brennan (Faculty of Life Sciences).

The Cancer Studies research group is one of two in the School of Cancer and Imaging Sciences and is a key partner in the Manchester Cancer Research Centre as part of the Manchester Comprehensive Cancer Network. The Manchester Cancer Research Centre will see a major increase in the cancer research efforts and facilities with the aim to recruit at least ten world-class clinical and non-clinical cancer researchers within the next five years. The strong partnership with the University and Trusts will help make Manchester a truly formidable player in international cancer research and care. The Cancer Network provides a range of specialist diagnostics and treatment for cancer patients together with laboratory, translational and clinical research.

The University of Manchester's Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences boasts an annual research income of £51 million, almost a third of the University's total research income. There are 7,600 undergraduate students and 1,600 postgraduates on award-bearing courses. More students graduate each year from the School of Medicine than from any other medical school in the UK. There is a strong organisational capability for undertaking cross-faculty teaching and research activity in partnership with the public sector and industry. Excellent links also exist with the NHS in terms of undertaking pioneering medical and clinically based research. The Faculty is a key stakeholder in the Greater Manchester Research Alliance.

The Paterson Institute for Cancer Research (PICR) is a research institute within The University of Manchester, and is one of four research institutes core-funded by Cancer Research UK. It is a partner in the newly-formed Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC), whose goal is to become one of the world's leading cancer research centres. MCRC brings together the cancer research activity in the city of The University of Manchester, Christie Hospital NHS Trust and Cancer Research UK. Facilities include micro-arrays, advanced imaging, bioinformatics and state-of-the-art mass-spectrometry based proteomics. For more information please visit www.paterson.man.ac.uk.

Breast Cancer Campaign is the only charity that specialises in funding independent breast cancer research throughout the UK. Our research looks at improving diagnosis and treatment, better understanding how breast cancer develops and ultimately either curing the disease or preventing it. Currently it supports 97 research projects, worth over £11.9 million, in 50 centres of excellence across the UK.

The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference is the UK's premier forum for disseminating advances across all aspects of cancer research. AstraZeneca is the gold sponsor for the NCRI Cancer Conference 2007.

The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) was established in April 2001. It is a partnership between government, the voluntary sector and the private sector, with the primary mission of maximising patient benefit that accrues from cancer research in the UK through coordination of effort and joint planning towards an integrated national strategy for cancer research. See www.ncri.org.uk. The NCRI consists of: The Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI); The Association for International Cancer Research; The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Breakthrough Breast Cancer; Breast Cancer Campaign; Cancer Research UK; Department of Health; Economic and Social Research Council; Leukaemia Research Fund; Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Macmillan Cancer Support; Marie Curie Cancer Care; The Medical Research Council; Northern Ireland Health and Personal Social Services Research & Development Office; Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation; Scottish Executive Health Department; Tenovus; Wales Office of Research and Development for Health & Social Care; Wellcome Trust; and Yorkshire Cancer Research.

University of Manchester
Does MRI plus mammography improve detection of new breast cancer after breast conservation therapy?
A new article published by JAMA Oncology compares outcomes for combined mammography and MRI or ultrasonography screenings for new breast cancers in women who have previously undergone breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer initially diagnosed at 50 or younger.
Blood test offers improved breast cancer detection tool to reduce use of breast biopsy
A Clinical Breast Cancer study demonstrates Videssa Breast can inform better next steps after abnormal mammogram results and potentially reduce biopsies up to 67 percent.
Surgery to remove unaffected breast in early breast cancer increases
The proportion of women in the United States undergoing surgery for early-stage breast cancer who have preventive mastectomy to remove the unaffected breast increased significantly in recent years, particularly among younger women, and varied substantially across states.
Breast cancer patients with dense breast tissue more likely to develop contralateral disease
Breast cancer patients with dense breast tissue have almost a two-fold increased risk of developing disease in the contralateral breast, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer.
Some early breast cancer patients benefit more from breast conservation than from mastectomy
Breast conserving therapy (BCT) is better than mastectomy for patients with some types of early breast cancer, according to results from the largest study to date, presented at ECC2017.
One-third of breast cancer patients not getting appropriate breast imaging follow-up exam
An annual mammogram is recommended after treatment for breast cancer, but nearly one-third of women diagnosed with breast cancer aren't receiving this follow-up exam, according to new findings presented at the 2016 Annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons.
Low breast density worsens prognosis in breast cancer
Even though dense breast tissue is a risk factor for breast cancer, very low mammographic breast density is associated with a worse prognosis in breast cancer patients.
Is breast conserving therapy or mastectomy better for early breast cancer?
Young women with early breast cancer face a difficult choice about whether to opt for a mastectomy or breast conserving therapy (BCT).
Breast density and outcomes of supplemental breast cancer screening
In a study appearing in the April 26 issue of JAMA, Elizabeth A.
Full dose radiotherapy to whole breast may not be needed in early breast cancer
Five years after breast-conserving surgery, radiotherapy focused around the tumor bed is as good at preventing recurrence as irradiating the whole breast, with fewer side effects, researchers from the UK have found in the large IMPORT LOW trial.

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.

Now Playing: Radiolab

Truth Trolls
Today, a third story of folks relentlessly searching for the truth. But this time, the truth seekers are an unlikely bunch... internet trolls.


Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking School
For most of modern history, humans have placed smaller humans in institutions called schools. But what parts of this model still work? And what must change? This hour, TED speakers rethink education.TED speakers include teacher Tyler DeWitt, social entrepreneur Sal Khan, international education expert Andreas Schleicher, and educator Linda Cliatt-Wayman.