Finding ways to predict whether women will benefit from the chemoprevention drug tamoxifen

Project details

Researcher: Professor Louise Jones

Location: Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London

Project title: Finding ways to predict whether women will benefit from the chemoprevention drug tamoxifen

Key area: Prevention

The challenge

Women at high risk of developing breast cancer can take chemoprevention drugs, such as tamoxifen, to reduce their risk. However, chemoprevention will be effective for only some women. We need to find ways to monitor whether women are benefiting from these drugs to ensure they receive the most appropriate treatment for them.

Project description

Changes to the amount of dense breast tissue seen on a mammogram could indicate whether chemoprevention drugs are having an effect. However, it can take over a year to see noticeable changes in breast density, so quicker methods are needed. Professor Jones has previously found that proteins responsible for dense breasts can be detected in the blood, so in this project, Professor Jones will investigate whether a blood test could act as an early indicator of whether the chemoprevention drug tamoxifen is working.

She will recruit a group of around 150 women at increased risk of breast cancer to receive tamoxifen, who will have mammograms and give blood samples. She will also use blood samples taken from other women as part of a previous chemoprevention study. Professor Jones will analyse the blood samples for changes in the amounts of certain proteins, as well as looking at mammograms to see if the blood tests match up with changes in breast density.

What difference will this project make?

Professor Jones’s research will help to develop a blood test to monitor the effectiveness of tamoxifen when given to women at increased risk of breast cancer. This will ensure that women can receive risk-reducing treatments that they will benefit from, and be spared the side effects if these are not effective for them.

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