Professor Srinivasan Madhusudan in the laboratory

Treating breast cancer right

 

You can help us develop new targeted treatments 

There are many different types of breast cancer. Over the decades, enormous progress has been made to understand the many forms and to develop treatments which are tailored to each one. These are called targeted treatments – they create fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy and can be used for longer. 

But there is still a long way to go.  Some aggressive types – like Triple Negative Breast Cancer – still have no targeted therapies available. Others– like hormone receptor positive advanced breast cancer – do have treatments which have helped double life expectancy from 24 to over 50 months.

But this is not enough. We now need a new generation of anti-hormone drugs and new treatments that can help patients whatever their age, type or stage of cancer. 

Professor John Robertson in the laboratory at The University of Nottingham

Targeting hormone-sensitive breast cancers

Hormone sensitive tumours are the most common type of breast cancer accounting for between 70-80% of all cases.

Over the decades, anti-hormone (or endocrine) treatments have been developed to help tackle these types - our Professor John Robertson led the introduction of the most recent of these therapies approved for use wordwide.

Yet over time, tumours can develop resistance and treatment response can decline. We are now researching a new generation of drugs at our centre in Derby to help give patients the best outcome for as long as possible. 

Doctor Madhusudan talks to a breast cancer patient and her partner at Nottingham City Hospital

Hope for triple negative breast cancers 

Alongside the hormone-sensitive tumours, most other breast cancers grow using proteins like HER2 (a further 15% of all cases). Yet there is one group of cancers which are different – they don’t respond to hormone therapy or drugs like Herceptin. These are called triple negative breast cancers and are a particularly aggressive form. 

Sadly there are no effective treatments currently available for these cancers but our researchers led by Dr Srinivasan Madhusudan, Dr Steve Chan and Professor Anna Grabowska have discovered that some of the cells have a key weakness in the mechanisms they use to survive and multiply. They now want to develop and test drugs that exploit this weakness to kill the cancer cells and make them more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 

 


More breast cancer research