People with breast cancer can become resistant to current therapies, and some types of breast cancer have fewer treatments options, so we need to continue to find new drugs for breast cancer, to improve the chances of survival and quality of life for thousands of patients.
In a wide range of cancers, including breast cancer, a protein called PBX attaches to members of a group of proteins called HOX proteins, helping the cancer to grow and survive. With previous funding, Dr Morgan has developed a small protein, known as a peptide, that prevents PBX from binding to HOX proteins. He showed that this peptide could kill cells from different types of breast cancer, including triple negative breast cancer, which can often be more aggressive.
However, instead of developing this peptide into a potential breast cancer treatment, Dr Morgan wishes to find a small chemical that does the same job. Most drugs are small chemicals instead of proteins, because generally they last longer both inside and outside the body, are easier to give to patients as drugs, and are cheaper to manufacture. Dr Morgan has already identified three chemicals that prevent PBX and HOX proteins from binding together. In this project, he will test these chemicals further to see if they could make effective drugs for breast cancer by studying how they kill breast cancer cells and stop the growth and spread of breast tumours in mice.
What difference will this project make?
Dr Morgan’s work could lead to a new drug for breast cancer, giving more treatment options for people whose breast cancer has become resistant to existing treatments, or who have more aggressive types of the disease.
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