Professor Ingunn Holen

Professor Ingunn Holen

Project details

Researcher: Professor Ingunn Holen

Location: University of Sheffield

Project title: Studying how blood vessels inside the bone help secondary breast tumours develop

Key area: Secondary Breast Cancer

The challenge

Once breast cancer spreads throughout the body, for example to the bone, it can sometimes be controlled for a while but sadly cannot be cured. We need to find ways to stop secondary breast cancer developing to improve the chances of survival for people with breast cancer and save more lives.

The science behind the project

Breast cancer cells can sometimes migrate into the bone, where they grow into secondary breast tumours. Professor Ingunn Holen is interested in how the environment inside the bone helps breast cancer cells to settle and multiply, in particular how the blood vessels in the bone help secondary breast tumours develop.

In this project, Professor Holen and colleagues will study the environment inside the bones of mice. They will identify what types of blood vessels are present inside the bone, and using breast cancer cells implanted into mice, will investigate how these cells interact with these blood vessels and other cells in the bone.

Professor Holen’s team will study what effect different drugs have on the environment inside the bone, including drugs that affect the growth of blood vessels and bone cells. Finally, they will investigate which combinations of treatments might prevent breast cancer cells migrating to the bone, or stop secondary breast tumours from growing.

What difference will this project make?

Professor Holen’s research will help to identify ways to prevent or slow the growth of secondary breast tumours in the bone. This could eventually lead to new treatments which could improve the chances of survival for people with breast cancer, and ultimately save lives.