Understanding how lobular breast cancer invades and spreads

Project details

Researcher: Dr Erik Sahai

Location: Francis Crick Institute

Project title: Understanding how lobular breast cancer invades and spreads

Key area: Secondary breast cancer

The challenge

Breast tumours that occur in the milk-producing lobes of the breast is called lobular breast cancer, and accounts for up to 15% of breast cancer cases. When cancer spreads from the breast to other parts of the body it can be treated but not cured. Lobular breast cancer spreads in a unique way, but we still don’t know enough about how this happens. Better understanding of this is the first step in stopping lobular breast cancer spreading and ultimately saving lives.

Project description

Cancer cells from lobular breast tumours invade into the surrounding tissue in a unique way, by moving as strands of cancer cells together, instead of individual cells. This is also seen when lobular breast cancer spreads to other locations in the body. Dr Sahai wants to study how and why lobular breast spreads in this way.

In this project, he will investigate more closely how the cancer cells move, using time-lapse imaging to study how lobular breast cancer cells grown in the lab invade. Dr Sahai has found 12 genes which may encourage this strand-like movement, and will investigate further what role they play in invasion.

He will also investigate how this strand-like behaviour affects the ability of cells to spread through the body, and whether it helps the cancer cells to survive during this process and in response to cancer drugs.

What difference will this project make?

Dr Sahai’s research will help to understand how lobular breast cancer invades and spreads. This could lead to new treatments to prevent this from happening, and so improve the chances of survival for thousands of people with lobular breast cancer.

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