The Breast Cancer Now Research Unit at King's College London is entirely focused on studying triple negative breast cancer. 

This type of breast cancer tends to be more aggressive and is more likely to affect younger and black women.

What research is happening at the Unit?

Our Research Unit at King’s College London is led by Professor Andrew Tutt, a world leader in the field of triple negative breast cancer.

Andrew has played a vital role in several international clinical trials into new treatments for this type of breast cancer. As a consultant oncologist treating patients, he has the drive and determination to ensure that his research meets the needs of people with breast cancer.

The Unit is made up of 12 researchers across three research groups, headed by Professor Andrew Tutt, Professor Sophia Karagiannis, and Dr Anita Grigoriadis. They all work together to find what drives triple negative breast cancer, to find its weaknesses, and to develop new treatments.

Andrew and Anita’s teams are studying the biological features of triple negative breast tumours to find differences that set them apart from other types of the disease. This will help guide the development of new treatments. Sophia and her team aim to use this knowledge to develop new treatments to specifically target triple negative breast cancer cells.

What has the Research Unit discovered so far?

  • The Triple Negative Trial led by Professor Andrew Tutt found that women who have advanced triple negative breast cancer and changes in BRCA genes do much better receiving a chemotherapy drug called carboplatin than standard treatment. This trial has changed how advanced triple negative breast cancer is treated.
  • Scientists investigated genes that triple negative breast cancer cells depend on to survive. They found that a ‘cancer addiction gene’ called KIFC1 could be a promising target to treat the disease.
  • Our researchers have also discovered that blocking the production of a molecule called PIM1 could be used to treat triple negative breast cancer. PIM1 is overproduced in triple negative breast cancer. They found that stopping this slows the growth of cancer cells and makes the chemotherapy drug eribulin more effective.
  • Our scientists found that a significant proportion of highly aggressive triple negative tumours, including those that are resistant to chemotherapy, make a lot of a protein called folate receptor alpha (FRα). Importantly, they also found that antibody immunotherapies targeting this protein significantly reduced growth of triple negative tumours in mice, also priming the immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells.

Find out more about the work currently happening at the Unit