Understanding how breast cancer cells become dependent on sugar

Project details

Researcher: Dr Jeremy Blaydes

Location: University of Southampton

Project title: Understanding how breast cancer cells become dependent on sugar

Key area: Treatment

The challenge

People with breast cancer can receive a variety of treatments, but sadly not everyone responds to these treatments in the same way. We need to understand more about the differences between normal and cancer cells, in order to find new ways to treat people with breast cancer and improve their chances of survival.

Project description

Cancer cells use up a lot of glucose (sugar) to provide the fuel they need to multiply. This switch to using lots of glucose also has other effects and changes the way that the cancer behaves.

Dr Jeremy Blaydes is interested in how this dependence on glucose might be exploited to develop new treatments for breast cancer. In this project, he will first study how the switch to using more glucose changes the behaviour of breast cancer cells grown in the lab, including how they multiply and survive, and respond to treatments like chemotherapy. Secondly, Dr Blaydes aims to find ‘markers’ which could be used to tell whether a tumour is using more glucose or not.

In previous work funded by Breast Cancer Campaign, Dr Blaydes found that proteins called ‘CtBPs’ may cause the change in behaviour when breast cancer cells switch to using more glucose. In this project, he will stop CtBPs from working to see if this stops breast tumours growing, using breast cancer cells that have been implanted into mice.

What difference will this project make?

Dr Blaydes’ research could lead to new ways for doctors to tell whether a tumour is using more glucose, and help develop new treatments that exploit this ‘sugar craving’. Ultimately, this will help ensure people with breast cancer receive the most appropriate treatments for them, and improve their chances of survival.

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