Some 2020 achievements in the lab
Action Against Cancer funds research carried out by various teams of dedicated scientists at Imperial College London, the University of Sussex and now also the University of Manchester. Highlights of their work from 2020 include:
Cancer stem cells
We are the main funder of a small team of scientists who have successfully created organoids to switch colour-coded gene mutations on and off, to follow how tumours start and progress. The overall aim of this research is to enable doctors to predict whether a tumour will spread, and if so where to, and most importantly what the best combination of drugs will be to prevent or to reduce relapse. In addition, this work should lead to much more effective personalised treatment, bringing new hope for cancer patients.
Developing a new drug - A totally new approach to therapy
A team that Action Against Cancer has funded since 2011, have successfully identified a drug compound that binds to and effectively inhibits the cancer causing gene LMTK3 - resulting in anticancer effects. It is expected that this revolutionary new drug will work with existing treatments, overcoming patient’s resistance that often develops over time.
One of the characteristic hallmarks of cancer is its ability to grow uncontrollably and override the mechanisms that would ordinarily prevent cells multiplying. We are funding a small team that has recently discovered that a well-known protein acts to suppress tumours. Building on this exciting breakthrough, they are now undertaking further investigations to pinpoint the exact mechanism and to identify potential targets for therapy.
One of our teams has demonstrated in a unique study how the rapid growth of breast cells during pregnancy, allows for the expansion of existing mutated cells and contributes to pregnancy associated breast cancer risk. This research involved the pioneering use of whole genome sequencing. The findings also add to growing evidence that age contributes to the accumulation of mutations in the healthy breast and to breast cancer risk. This project aims to improve early cancer detection, which is very often key to successful treatment.
Understanding the cancer brain
Action Against Cancer has funded the discovery that patients with a less common but aggressive type of breast cancer, known as triple negative, can be treated in a new way with drugs that are already available. As the drugs are currently in use, for patients with leukaemia and lymphoma, possible treatment for breast cancer patients could roll out to clinical trial immediately. There is strong evidence that the treatment will halt progression of the disease by targeting the surrounding healthy tissue of cancerous cells. As approximately 15% of all breast cancer cases are triple negative, this could save many lives.