Targeted breast cancer treatment provides new hope

29 August 2017

UQ researchers are offering women and their families the hope of improved future breast cancer treatments by pushing the boundaries of cancer research in collaboration with the University’s global partners.

In a recent study, UQ School of Pharmacy researchers discovered a new way to target rare and resistant forms of breast cancer, raising the possibility of developing improved treatment options.

The study, funded by Cancer Council Queensland and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, found that some breast cancer patients could benefit from the new treatment.

This and other UQ discoveries are good news for the more than 3000 Queensland women expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Professor Gregory Monteith from UQ School of Pharmacy says the findings and other work in his laboratory could also halt the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body including the brain and assist with the treatment of other cancers.

“Our recent discovery showed that a cellular channel, TRPV4, which acts as a sensor in normal cells, is at a much higher level in some breast cancer cases.

“This includes those cases that do not respond to most targeted therapies.

“We found that instead of switching off the protein to stop the breast cancer growing or spreading, we can activate it further to cause the death of breast cancer cells,” Professor Monteith said.

One in eight Queensland women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85, and younger women with the disease actually have poorer survival rates than older women.

Additional funding is needed to make current drugs more effective and jump-start clinical trials.

“In some cases, we believe drugs used to treat other conditions may be applied to treat some types of breast cancer, so we might be able to apply discoveries quite soon as no major drug development process is needed. What we need is more research to determine effective ways of using them,” Professor Monteith says.

Support this ground-breaking breast cancer research at our King’s In Pink fun run and walk – Sunday 15 Oct.

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