A leading scientist from Sheffield has been awarded a grant of around £100,000 by leading research charity Breast Cancer Now to study a molecule that might be helping breast tumours to spread throughout the body.

Tuesday 25 August 2015      Latest research Our research
Sheffield scientist to investigate role of key molecule in preventing the spread of breast cancer

When breast cancer spreads throughout the body – known as secondary breast cancer – it unfortunately cannot be cured and is ultimately the reason that women lose their lives to the disease. It is therefore essential that scientists and clinicians find ways to prevent and treat the spread of breast cancer and stop women dying from the disease.

I Kappa B K Epsilon (IKBKE) is a molecule that is already known to have a key role in the development of breast cancer, which experts believe could also be involved in the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body, in particular the bone – the most common site for disease to spread to. Dr Aymen Idris, based at the University of Sheffield, will lead a three-year PhD studentship to understand the role of IKBKE in the spread of breast cancer.

Dr Idris and his colleagues plan to use tissue donated by patients to the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank, measuring the amounts of IKBKE in samples of breast tumours in order to see whether the molecule could be used to indicate how likely a person’s breast cancer is to spread.

Through investigation in the lab and in mice, Dr Idris will also explore how the IKBKE molecule helps breast tumours to spread throughout the body as well as investigating whether removing or blocking the molecule using an existing drug could prevent the spread.

Dr Richard Berks, Senior Research Communications Officer at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“Dr Idris’ research will help us understand how breast tumours are able to spread to other parts of body, in particular to the bone, and could provide life-saving insight into how the IKBKE molecule can make breast tumours more aggressive.”

“This project could ultimately lead to new ways to predict and prevent the spread of breast cancer, improving the chances of survival for women with the disease and bringing us a step closer to finally putting an end to breast cancer deaths in the UK.”

Over 4,000 women in Yorkshire & The Humber are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, on average, and sadly almost 1,000 women in the region die of the disease each year.*

*Source of information: Incidence and mortality statistics were obtained from the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Incidence statistics were based upon women diagnosed between 2010 and 2012. Mortality statistics were based upon women dying from breast cancer between 2011 and 2013.