02 Sep 2016

New research gives hope to breast cancer patients

I was delighted to read an article from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne recently talking about some important breast cancer research. The discovery of a potential new procedure could mean current cancer prevention strategies, which include surgical removal of the breasts – which have serious impacts on people’s lives, could be avoided. To read the original news, click through to the link here.

There’s also a good article in the Australian Womens’ Weekly on this research- click here to read the full article.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have identified that people who carry a faulty BRCA1 gene are at high risk of developing aggressive breast cancer. By pinpointing the cells that increase the chance of breast cancers in women who have inherited a faulty version of the BRCA1 gene, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have identified that the drug denosumab may have the potential to prevent development of breast cancer. Doing so would provide the non-surgical option to prevent breast cancer in women with the higher genetic risks.

Researchers who were involved in this project discovered that these pre-cancerous cells could be identified by a marker protein named RANK. This is an important breakthrough because inhibitors of the RANK signalling pathway were already in clinical use, hence an existing treatment method could be utilised. Formal testing in clinical trials are now underway to progress this work.

The discovery is the result of more than a decade of investigations of breast stem cell function, and is exciting to think that we are on the path to the “holy grail” of cancer research.