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9th May 2018

A Lifesaving Key to Beating Breast Cancer

Claudine Bonder CCB

Thanks to lifesaving research, incredible treatment advances continue to be made and breast cancer survival rates are now at an amazing 98 per cent when the cancer remains in the breast.

Sadly, nine people do lose their battle to breast cancer every day. But there is hope for these women.

Associate Professor Claudine Bonder, Professor Angel Lopez and their teams at the Centre for Cancer Biology are leading lifesaving research to stop the growth and spread of the most aggressive breast cancer.

“For the last few years, we’ve been working on the most difficult breast cancer to treat, triple negative breast cancer. This breast cancer is the most aggressive and invasive, which means the cancer cells can quickly access blood vessels as a highway to spread around the body,” A/Prof Bonder said.

We’ve identified a blood hormone that helps breast cancer to grow and spread using blood vessels and have promising data to suggest that this could act as a good target for a new treatment.

While other breast cancer types currently have a targeted treatment, for patients diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, chemotherapy proves to be the only option.

“Breast cancer can only grow to a certain size before it needs access to the blood supply for nutrients and oxygen. To attract a blood supply, cancer cells can either send out a chemical signal to draw in neighbouring blood vessels (a process called angiogenesis) or build their own blood vessel-like structures and create their own supply (vasculogenic mimicry).

What we’ve shown is this blood hormone supports both processes, helping aggressive breast cancers to grow and spread around a patient’s body. Our theory is that if we can block the function of this hormone, we can block the two ways which assist in the growth and spread of aggressive breast cancer.

Now with this exciting knowledge, A/Prof Bonder, Prof Lopez and their teams are hopeful their discovery could lead to a new treatment for the most aggressive breast cancer affecting your community.

“At the moment these patient’s only treatment option is chemotherapy so our research could lead to an alternative treatment or combine a new therapy with a lower dose of chemotherapy.

“By understanding how this blood hormone contributes to breast cancer growth, we hope to identify a distinct subgroup of breast cancer patients, diagnose them earlier and one day come up with a specific or personalised treatment for them.

“We’re hopeful in the next year we’ll have some really solid evidence which will be what we need to work towards clinical trials.”