Georgia Mavria and her team

Dr Georgia Mavria (second from right) with her team

Project details

Researcher: Dr Georgia Mavria

Location: University of Leeds

Project title: Finding ways to prevent the spread of breast cancer to the brain

Key area: Secondary breast cancer

Dr Georgia Mavria is studying how a molecule called DOCK4 is involved in the spread of breast cancer to the brain. Her work could lead to new ways to prevent secondary tumours from growing in the brain and ultimately save lives.

The challenge

When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, the secondary breast tumours that grow can be controlled for a while but unfortunately cannot be cured. In addition, secondary tumours in the brain can cause debilitating side-effects which can have a serious impact on a person’s quality of life. We desperately need to find ways to prevent the spread of breast cancer to the brain in order to save lives.

The science behind the project

The development of new blood vessels helps secondary tumours to grow in the brain by providing these tumours with the nutrients they need to survive. Dr Georgia Mavria has found that a molecule called DOCK4 is important in controlling the development of blood vessels, and could also cause breast cancer cells to spread.

In this project, Dr Mavria will study in more detail how DOCK4 is involved in the spread of breast cancer to the brain. She will study what effect DOCK4 has on breast cancer cells grown in the lab and implanted into mice, and also how removing DOCK4 affects the development of new blood vessels inside the brain and around breast tumours. This work will help to determine whether blocking DOCK4 could be a treatment option to prevent secondary breast cancer in the brain.

Dr Mavria will also study samples donated by patients to the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank to understand whether the amount of DOCK4 in these tumours could be used to predict whether someone is likely to see their breast cancer to spread to their brain.

What difference will this project make?

Dr Mavria’s research will greatly help us to understand how DOCK4 is involved in the spread of breast cancer to the brain. Her research could eventually lead to new ways to predict and prevent secondary breast cancer, which would ultimately save many lives.

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