Exciting Research


Thank you for your amazing support of breast cancer research this year. We couldn’t do it without you!
Below are some of the year’s top achievements to show the impact of your monthly gifts and what lies on the horizon in breast cancer treatment and care.

Thanks to your generosity during 2017, the National Breast Cancer Foundation has continued to invest in breast cancer research, awarding $12million to over 30 of the best researchers across the country. Below we highlight some of the year’s top achievements to show you the impact of your monthly gifts and what lies on the horizon in breast cancer treatment and care.

PRECISION MEDICINE Nanoparticles are teeny tiny spheres that can carry drugs through the blood stream, directly to the cancer cells. Dr Anabel Sorolla-Bardaji is investigating if they can be used to effectively treat triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer which doesn’t respond well to current treatments. Watching through a super powerful microscope, she’s seen this experimental treatment attack the cancer cells, while mostly ignoring healthy cells. These early results from her research give hope for effective treatment for triple negative breast cancer in future.
For a sneak peek inside Anabel’s lab, click here.
IMMUNOTHERAPY There’s a lot of excitement around immunotherapy – a type of treatment designed to boost the body’s natural defences to fight cancer. It’s been very successful in treating metastatic melanoma and researchers are hoping it will be just as effective for metastatic breast cancer. Dr Simon Junankar is using a cutting-edge technique – a kind of cellular barcoding – to understand why some forms of breast cancer become resistant to immunotherapy. His early results show that the immune system can reduce the number of cancer cells that can spread and grow, and the next step is to see if immunotherapy can further reduce the spread.
IMPROVING SURGERY Up to a quarter of women with breast cancer need a second or third operation to remove cancerous cells that were not taken out during the first surgery because they cannot be seen. A smart surgical glove developed by NBCF-funded Dr Brendan Kennedy is currently being trialled by surgeons in Western Australia. The smart glove aims to help surgeons more accurately detect the edges of the tumour so they can be more confident that all the cancer cells have been removed. It’s been through many prototypes and tests in the lab and Dr Kennedy hopes it will mean women with breast cancer needn’t have more than one operation to remove their tumour in future.
PRECISION MEDICINE A blood test that could identify women with metastatic breast cancer would be a huge breakthrough for better treatment of breast cancer, but right now doctors have no way of knowing until symptoms start to show. Associate Professor Michelle Hill is making exciting progress in this area. She is analysing proteins in the blood looking for ‘biomarkers’ and, although only a small number of samples have been tested so far, the results have been positive. In fact, the discovery of these biomarkers paves the way for a larger study, ultimately heading towards a reliable test that doctors can use to detect metastatic breast cancer much earlier.


Follow Dr Anabel Sorolla-Bardaji, one of our talented researchers, through her laboratory to see how she is helping to bring new treatments to women with triple-negative breast cancer.

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