Investigating PIN1 as a biomarker for BRCA1-mutated breast cancer

Project details

Researcher: Dr Niamh Buckley

Location: Queen’s University Belfast

Project title: Investigating PIN1 as a ‘biomarker’ for BRCA1-mutated breast cancer

Key area: Treatment

The challenge

Triple negative and basal-like are related types of breast cancer that tend to be more aggressive, and have limited treatment options available. Therefore it is vital scientists find new ways to treat these types of breast cancer, which will improve the chances of survival for thousands of patients.

Project description

Dr Buckley believes that a protein called BRCA1 might not work in some cases of ‘triple negative’ and ‘basal-like’ breast cancer. There are existing drugs and ones in development which could treat breast cancer that lacks BRCA1 function, but it is difficult to accurately identify which patients would benefit.

Dr Buckley has identified that a protein called PIN1 is increased in breast cancer cells which have faulty BRCA1 genes. In this project, she will further study the relationship between BRCA1, PIN1 and breast cancer. Using breast cancer cells grown in the lab, Dr Buckley will investigate how the production of PIN1 is increased when BRCA1 is not working, and what PIN1 is doing in breast cancer cells. She will use samples from breast tumours donated by patients to find out whether PIN1 could be also used to predict how likely it is that their breast cancer will spread and whether they will respond to existing treatments.

What difference will this project make?

Dr Buckley’s research into PIN1 could lead to it being used to indicate which patients’ tumours lack BRCA1 function, and therefore those who might benefit from new treatments. This would greatly improve the chances of survival for people with more aggressive forms of the disease.

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