Dr Boyle, from Adelaide’s Centre for Cancer Biology hopes to discover how physical stresses in the body can cause cancer cells to hijack healthy cells and make the disease progress rapidly.
“We have found that when tumours experience physical stress, it turns on particular enzymes within the cancer cells that cause aggressive disease,” Dr Boyle said.
“Turning on these enzymes can change not only the cancer cells themselves but can also lead to the release of chemicals from the cancer cells that change their surroundings, to help the growth and spread of cancer.
“The goal of my research is to understand how and why physical stress experienced by breast cancer can lead to tumour growth, and ultimately find ways which we can slow, stop or even reverse these effects as a new way of treating breast cancer.”
While a large amount of research is conducted with a two-dimensional system, Dr Boyle’s research is using a three-dimensional system to study how to potentially stop the effects of physical stress in women with breast cancer.
“The three-dimensional system will allow us to keep the tumour fragments alive outside of the body. We will treat these fragments before (prevention) or after (therapy) stress to see if we can prevent or reverse the effects of cancer growth,” Dr Boyle said.
“This research will give us new knowledge on whether physical forces are important for breast cancer growth, how cells react to the physical forces and how we can potentially counteract the effects of the forces.”
If Dr Boyle’s research is successful, it can potentially save the lives of many women.
“We can then build on this knowledge for the development of new therapies that can halt the effects of physical stress in breast and potentially other cancers like skin cancer.”
It is thanks to the support of our valued donors that Dr Boyle has a fighting chance against this heartbreaking disease.
“Thanks to the generosity of ABCR donors, I have been given this valuable opportunity to advance my research that will hopefully save lives.”
*ABCR is a charity of The Hospital Research Foundation Group.