A new technique to study genetic changes that can lead to breast cancer could be one step closer.
The University of Nottingham has received £15,000 from the charity Breast Cancer Campaign to fill in one of the research gaps identified by the country’s top breast cancer experts in a recent study carried out by the charity. The aim is to identify the many undiscovered genes thought to be involved in the early stages of breast cancer.
The grant awarded to Ian Ellis, Professor of Cancer Pathology, is part of £2.3 million awarded to 20 projects around the UK. Professor Ellis said: “Thanks to funding from Breast Cancer Campaign I hope to develop a technique which would allow the genetic information of many thousands of breast samples to be studied which would be of huge importance in understanding the genetic changes that occur in early breast cancer.”
It is known that breast cancer can develop when the genes in breast cells change and stop working properly. Inherited defects in genes account for around five to 10 per cent of all breast cancers but all forms of breast cancer have acquired gene defects during their initial stages of development and many of these genes are yet to be discovered. These defective genes can lead to physical changes in the breast cancer cell resulting in breast cancer.
The earliest physical sign of a normal breast cell developing into one common type of breast cancer is the presence of a flat atypical epithelial (FEA) cell. Professor Ellis will study the genes in the FEA cells to identify which ones are involved in the very earliest stages of breast cancer.
Pamela Goldberg, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Campaign, said, “Every year breast cancer kills 12,500 women in the UK. It is therefore vital that we identify new genes involved in breast cancer development so that women who inherit these faulty genes and are therefore at higher risk of breast cancer, can be monitored at an early stage.”
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Notes to Editors:
The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia.
Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was declared ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.
Breast Cancer Campaign aims to beat breast cancer by funding innovative world-class research to understand how breast cancer develops, leading to improved diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure. It currently supports 110 research projects, worth over £14.3 million, in 45 centres of excellence across the UK, four of which are being carried out in Nottingham. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and accounts for nearly one in three of all cancers in women. In the UK, almost 46,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year — that’s around 125 a day.
Breast Cancer Campaign’s publication: Evaluation of the current knowledge limitations in breast cancer research: A gap analysis — can be viewed at
For further information about Breast Cancer Campaign visit: