Patients with hormone-positive breast cancer are usually treated with anti-hormone therapies such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors. However, many of these patients are resistant to these drugs or develop resistance during treatment, allowing their breast cancer to return. We need to be able to predict who will and won’t be resistant to these therapies so that more suitable treatments can be selected.
Professor Mike Dixon and Dr Andy Sims’s research is focused on identifying molecular markers which can predict a tumour’s response to anti-hormone therapy. By collecting molecular data from patient tumour samples he hopes to aid the development of new tests to predict response so that patients receive the best possible treatment.
Professor Dixon is a breast cancer surgeon at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh and many of his patients consent to donate samples of their tumours for research. By collecting samples before, during and after treatment with anti-hormone therapy, the team is able to build up a detailed picture of the molecular changes that occur during treatment. This information can then be used to look for molecular signatures that predict whether or not someone is responding well to treatment.
What difference will this project make?
This research will contribute to the development of new tests that can tell if a patient is responding to anti-hormone therapy early on in their treatment. This means that if the treatment is not working the patient can be moved on to a more appropriate therapy, giving them the best possible chances of overcoming breast cancer.
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