Breast Cancer Ireland funded research reveals ground-breaking therapy

New Breast Cancer Ireland part funded research led by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre investigators, reveals a new potential therapy approach to treat brain metastasis in breast cancer with existing drugs.

Most breast cancer related deaths are as a result of treatment relapse leading to the spread of cancer to distant organs. Breast tumours can spread to many organs around the body, with the brain being a particularly devastating complication. These secondary tumours in the brain can be particularly aggressive, and are very challenging to treat successfully. To date, there are inadequate treatment options for people with breast cancer that has spread to the brain, and as such, research focused on expanding treatment options is continuously sought.

The current study, led by Professor Leonie Young, Dr Nicola Cosgrove, Dr Damir Varešlija and Professor Arnold Hill, leading Irish breast surgeon, focused on genetically tracking the tumour evolution from diagnosis of primary breast cancer to the metastatic spread in the brain of cancer patients.

This exciting body of research, just published in the prestigious open access journal Nature Communications, has established that almost half of the tumours investigated had changes in the way they repair their DNA – and this could make these tumours vulnerable to PARP inhibitors.

Speaking at the announcement of the research findings, Ms Aisling Hurley, CEO at Breast Cancer Ireland said “This study is a collaboration between Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre in Ireland, The Mayo Clinic and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre in the U.S and shows evidence of real value and the impact that our funds are having. It points to the ongoing importance of scientists and clinicians working closely together with a view to developing newer, targeted therapies for the many different subtypes of breast cancer experienced, so that we can transform this disease into a treatable illness, that can be maintained long term. This is exactly the type of research that will help us to truly change the landscape of this disease into the future”

 Professor Young and Dr Varešlija added that “Uncovering these new vulnerabilities in DNA pathways in brain metastasis opens up novel treatment strategies for patients who previously had limited targeted therapy options”.

Breast cancer will affect 1 in 9 women during their lifetime, with someone in the world being diagnosed every 29 seconds. Early detection is key.


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