Dr Claire Wells
If breast cancer spreads throughout the body, it can sometimes be controlled for a while but sadly cannot be cured. We need to find ways to stop breast cancer spreading, which will improve the chances of survival for patients.
In order to spread throughout the body, breast cancer cells first have to invade into the breast tissue surrounding the tumour. With the help of previous funding from Breast Cancer Now, Dr Claire Wells has found that two molecules, ‘PAK4’ and ‘RhoU’, work together to make breast cancer cells more invasive. In this project, Dr Wells will investigate the role of PAK4 and RhoU in more detail.
Firstly, with breast cancer cells grown in the lab, she will study precisely how PAK4 and RhoU work together, and identify which other molecules they need to work with to help breast cancer cells invade. Dr Wells will then study whether removing PAK4 or RhoU helps stop breast cancer cells spreading when they are implanted into fish embryos or mice.
Finally, Dr Wells will measure the amounts of PAK4 and RhoU in samples of tumours donated by people with breast cancer, to determine whether they could use them to predict how likely a person’s breast cancer is to spread.
What difference will this project make?
Dr Wells’ research will help to understand how breast cancer begins to invade into surrounding tissues and spread throughout the body. Her work could ultimately lead to new ways to predict and stop the spread of breast cancer, which will improve the chances of survival for people with the disease and help save lives.
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