Understanding how breast tumours change and become variable

Project details

Researcher: Dr Rifat Hamoudi

Location: University College London

Project title: Understanding how breast tumours change and become variable

Key area: Treatment

The challenge

In some breast tumours there can be parts of the tumour which differ from the rest. This could mean that these regions grow quicker, become resistant to treatments, or spread throughout the body. We need to understand what causes variation within breast tumours and why some tumours vary when others don’t.

Project description

In some breast tumours there are regions which are different to the rest of the tumour, rather than the whole tumour being the same. For example, during diagnosis, breast tumours are tested for ‘markers’ such as the oestrogen receptor (ER) or HER2, and sometimes small regions of the tumour can have different results to the rest of the tumour. This diversity within some tumours could be critical for the treatment of breast cancer – for example, some parts of a tumour might be resistant to a treatment, meaning that the cancer could grow back after therapy.

In this project, Dr Hamoudi will study this variation within tumours. To understand how many tumours have this kind of diversity within them, he will study samples of 100 breast tumours, and test for 15 different protein ‘markers’ including ER and HER2, looking for areas which are different to the rest. Dr Hamoudi will then extract the RNA from these areas to find clues as to why some tumours are diverse and change, whilst others remain the same.

What difference will this project make?

Dr Hamoudi’s research will help to understand how variation within breast tumours occurs. This could lead to ways to predict which tumours are likely to change over time, and possibly prevent this from happening, to ensure people with these breast tumours receive the most appropriate and effective treatments for them.

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