Researcher: Professor Chris Lord
Location: The Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre, London
Project title: Gene Function team
Key area: Treatment
Although effective treatments exist for breast cancer, there are many patients for whom these drugs don’t work or stop working over time. We need to develop the next generation of targeted drugs to ensure that all patients receive the best possible treatment.
The Gene Function team aims to identify genetic weaknesses in breast cancer cells which can be exploited with targeted treatments. By identifying weaknesses that occur across different types of breast cancer the team hopes to identify new ways to treat the disease. The team has already had a major success in this area with the discovery that a faulty BRCA gene acts as a weakness exploitable with a drug called a PARP inhibitor. These drugs are now being trialed in patients and could very soon be approved for widespread use.
How will the team achieve this?
The team is trying to characterise the genetic weaknesses specific to different types of breast cancer so that new drugs can be developed that are specifically tailored to attack these weaknesses.
Patients taking PARP inhibitors through clinical trials sometimes develop resistance to the drug over time. Professor Lord and his team are taking PARP inhibitors back to the lab to understand how breast cancers become resistant to them so that the use of the drug can be optimised.
What difference will this project make?
Targeted treatments have the benefit of being highly selective for cancer cells, ultimately reducing their side effects and increasing the effectiveness of treatment. Professor Chris Lord’s research will identify new ways to specifically target breast cancer cells, which will lead to the development of new and effective treatments for breast cancer.
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