Project details

Researcher: Professor Qing-Jun Meng 

Location: University of Manchester

Project cost: £224,988

The challenge

There is an urgent need to find new and better ways to treat breast cancer so that more people can live well with and beyond the disease. One area that has been of great interest to researchers is how the body’s internal clock is involved in the development and progression of breast cancer.

This internal biological clock allows cells in the body to time important processes, such as growth and repair, to a 24-hour day. However, in some cancer cells, this inner clock can be disrupted. Understanding how this occurs and what consequences it has could lead to new treatments as well as improve existing treatments for breast cancer.

The science behind the project

Professor Qing-Jun Meng and his team, from the University of Manchester, are studying what role the inner body clock plays in breast cancer. They are looking at samples donated by breast cancer patients to determine whether this information could help improve timing of existing treatments and develop new ones.

They are investigating why oestrogen receptor positive and HER2 negative breast cancers have a normal working inner clock but HER2 positive breast cancers don’t.

Qing-Jun is also using artificial intelligence to reveal what processes are regulated by the inner clock in breast cancer cells. He wants to understand if interfering with the inner clock in breast cancer cells can help to treat the disease.

Lastly, the researchers want to test in mouse models of breast cancer if breast cancer treatments are more likely to work better at particular time of the day.

What difference will this project make?

This research will help us better understand the role that the inner biological clock plays in breast cancer. This could help improve existing therapies as well as find new ones that target the inner clock in breast cancer cells.

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