Dr Adrienne Gorman (left) and Dr Katatzyna Mnich
Dr Gorman is studying whether blocking a protein called RIP2, known to be involved in the immune system, could make breast cancer cells more sensitive to treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and improve the chances of survival for patients.
People with breast cancer can be given a variety of treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted drugs like tamoxifen, and radiotherapy. However, sometimes the cancer can become resistant to treatments. We need to find ways to prevent or reverse this resistance, so that patients can receive the maximum benefit from treatments and have a better chance of surviving the disease.
The science behind the project
RIP2 is a protein that is involved in controlling the immune system. However, recently, Dr Gorman and others have found that it could also help breast cancer cells survive treatments, and invade and spread throughout the body. In this pilot study, Dr Gorman will investigate the role of RIP2 using breast cancer cells from different types of the disease. She will test a range of treatments on these cells – including chemotherapy drugs, anti-hormone treatments, and radiotherapy – and will test whether reducing the amount of RIP2 in the cancer cells makes them more sensitive to the treatments.
What difference will this project make?
In this project Dr Gorman hopes to shed light on whether RIP2 is helping breast cancer cells to survive. If she finds that blocking RIP2 makes breast cancer cells more sensitive to treatments, her work could eventually lead to ways to reverse resistance to treatments, ensuring that patients can gain the most benefit from their treatments, which will ultimately help improve their chances of survival.