Research

FUTURE DREAMS HAS DONATED IN EXCESS OF £1.2 MILLION TO RESEARCH
PROJECTS WITH BREAST CANCER NOW, FOCUSING ON SECONDARY BREAST CANCER
INCLUDING WORK BY PROFESSOR CLARE ISACKE AND DR BRACKENBURY.

Almost all of the 11,500 women who die as a result of breast cancer each year in the UK will have seen their cancer spread. So it’s vital we find ways to stop it and save the lives of the women we love.

With support from Future Dreams, Professor Clare Isacke and her team at the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre at the Institute of Cancer Research in London have made ground-breaking progress in understanding secondary breast cancer. Her team has discovered that aggressive breast cancer cells can ‘radicalise’ certain healthy cells by releasing a protein called Wnt7a. These radicalised healthy cells can then help breast cancer spread. So finding ways to block the production of Wnt7a could make it much harder for breast cancer to spread and become incurable, and help to save lives. Professor Isacke’s team has also found a new way to identify women at high risk of developing secondary breast cancer after initial treatment. The researchers found that if a certain set of genes become activated in breast tumours, they increase the risk of breast cancer returning and spreading around the body. In future, examining how active these genes are in a tumour could help doctors identify the women most at risk of their breast cancer coming back and spreading, and tailor their treatment to prevent this from happening.

In 2017 Future Dreams began funding another three year secondary breast cancer research project for Dr William Brackenbury at Breast Cancer Now. We are in real need of drugs that can stop secondary breast cancer. Dr William Brackenbury’s innovative research has the potential to bring us one step closer to being able to prevent secondary breast cancer and save lives.

He previously found that breast cancer cells that are able to spread around the body often contain high levels of molecules called voltage-gated sodium channels. They act as gates allowing small, electrically charged molecules to travel in and out of the cell. In developing nerve cells, voltage-gated sodium channels help them to migrate and form our nervous system. So the question Dr Brackenbury is trying to answer is whether these channels also help breast cancer cells to move around the body. He and his team are using an innovative neuroscience technique to record electrical signals, which has never been used to study breast tumours before. The researchers are using this technique to test if breast cancer cells generate electrical signals and if this helps them to migrate. If they discover that the voltage-gated sodium channels are indeed helping breast cancer spread, this could eventually lead to the use of drugs blocking these channels to stop the disease invading other parts of the body and becoming incurable.

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EVERYONE DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST CANCER WILL LIVE.

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