DNA-damaging treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be used to treat breast cancer, but they are not effective for all breast tumours. We need to understand why tumours respond differently to treatments, so that we can make treatments more effective and improve the chances of survival for people with breast cancer.
In previous work funded by Breast Cancer Now, Professor David Elliott and colleagues have found that two proteins, ‘Tra2-alpha’ and ‘Tra2-beta’ are essential for breast cancer cells to be able to survive. They found that these Tra2 proteins work together to activate a gene called CHEK1, which protects breast cancer cells from chemotherapy.
In this project, Professor Elliott wants to find other genes that Tra2 proteins control, and so find other ways that Tra2 proteins help breast cancer cells to survive. He will do this by removing the Tra2 proteins from cells grown in the lab that represent different types of breast cancer, and studying what effect this has on the cells.
Professor Elliott will also study in more detail how Tra2 proteins work in breast tumours by studying their effects in tumours donated to the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank. Finally he will test how stopping these Tra2 proteins from working could be made into a treatment, and how this could make radiotherapy more effective.
What difference will this project make?
Professor Elliott’s research into Tra2-alpha and Tra2-beta could eventually lead to new treatments or make existing DNA-damaging treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy more effective, which will improve the chances of survival for thousands of people with breast cancer.
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