Researcher: Dr Paloma Garcia
Location: University of Birmingham
Project title: Understanding the role of MYBL2 in breast cancer stem cells
It’s thought that cells called breast cancer stem cells may be responsible for breast cancer returning, becoming resistant to treatments and spreading to other parts of the body. Researchers want to understand more about these cells so they can develop treatments that specifically target them, giving everyone the best possible chance of survival.
The science behind the project
In this project, Dr Garcia and her team want to understand more about how a protein called MYBL2 works in breast cancer stem cells. Breast tumours with high levels of MYBL2 can be more aggressive and can grow more rapidly, but we don’t yet know the exact role of this protein.
In earlier research in blood cancer, the team discovered that this protein helps repair DNA when it becomes damaged. They think high levels of MYBL2 might do something similar in breast cancer stem cells. It may be helping tumours survive and become resistant to cancer treatments that damage DNA by allowing breast cancer cells to find alternative ways to repair their DNA.
Researchers will alter the levels of MYBL2 in breast cancer cells grown in the lab and a mouse model of human breast cancer, to see if this affects how breast cancer stem cells work. They especially want to understand how these breast cancer stem cells grow and spread around the body. To see whether MYBL2 could be a potential target for treatments, the team will test whether lowering the levels of this protein, and then treating cancer cells with additional drugs, could stop breast cancer stem cells growing.
What difference will this project make?
This research may reveal that targeting MYBL2 could work as a new treatment to stop breast cancer returning, stop tumours becoming resistant to treatment and prevent the disease from spreading around the body. This would help to give people with breast cancer the best chance of survival.
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