Dr Rachael Natrajan (second from right) and her team in the lab
Researcher: Dr Rachael Natrajan
Project title: Discovering genetic variations within the different types of breast cancer
Key area: Treatment
There are many types of breast cancer, each having different treatment response and patient prognosis. Unfortunately we don’t know enough about the genetic variations that exist within each type to be able to effectively tailor treatments to the individual. Therefore it is vital our scientists uncover the small but significant gene differences within each of the types of breast cancer. This information could be used to develop new personalised treatments for patients. Ultimately, it will improve the chances of survival for even more patients and mean fewer people lose their loved ones.
In a huge global effort, researchers are currently working out the precise genetic code, essentially reading the DNA of thousands of people with different types of breast cancer. Dr Natrajan will study this vast amount of information and pick out small variations in the genes of people who have the same types of breast cancer. She will then produce cells containing the genetic variations she has identified as being involved in disease development in each of the different breast cancer types.
Then she will study the impact of these genetic differences on laboratory-grown breast cells, seeing how their presence or absence affects whether they become cancerous and grow. Additionally she will test these cells with thousands of existing drugs to see whether these could be used to treat different breast cancer types more effectively than is currently done.
What difference will this project make?
Despite the huge progress made, too many people are still dying from breast cancer. Dr Natrajan’s innovative project will help pinpoint small genetic variations in different types of breast cancer that could be used to develop new drugs. This would help clinicians personalise treatments for individual patients; giving them the best chance of survival.
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