NBCF backs new research into preventing breast cancer

July 28th, 2014

Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench, from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, is among more than 20 researchers to receive funding from the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) in 2014.

Professor Chenevix-Trench said this research could be particularly relevant to women who carry BRCA gene mutations because they currently have limited options to reduce their high risk of developing breast cancer.

She said some choose the radical option of surgical removal of the breasts (mastectomy), while others may choose regular breast screening and taking risk-reduction medication, such as tamoxifen.

Professor Georgia Chenevix-Trench’s research project is supported by NBCF pink diamond sponsor Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic, which has provided $19.8 million to NBCF since 1998.

Dr Alison Butt, NBCF Director, Research Investment, said: “NBCF is proud to announce this new funding investment in 2014, which covers the whole spectrum of breast cancer research, from understanding how the disease develops through to more effective ways of treating it. These projects will help us move towards our aspirational goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.”

Professor Chenevix-Trench said the current options for risk-reduction treatments were imperfect because they only reduced the risk of breast cancer by about 50%, and had side effects, including increased risk of other cancers.

“We have identified a drug, shown to be safe in treating patients with an inherited blood disorder, which can block the action of a new breast cancer susceptibility gene,” she said.

“This medication could be useful for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer, particularly in women who carry a mutation in the BRCA gene or are diagnosed at a young age. Our aim is to test the effect of this drug on breast cancer cells grown in the laboratory to determine if we can justify carrying out a clinical trial.”

Professor Chenevix-Trench, who received an NBCF Novel Concept Award to fund her research project, is one of several Queensland researchers who received NBCF funding in 2014.
Other Queensland-based project beginning this year include:

  • Dr Kristofer Thurecht, University of Queensland, who is investigating new nanomedicine devices that can be used to both diagnose breast cancer and measure whether a treatment is working for a particular patient.
  • Professor Mark Ragan, University of Queensland, who is studying the proteins that play a role in each stage of breast cancer spread. Dr Ragan hopes that knowledge of these proteins may provide new therapy targets for advanced breast cancer.

NBCF grants to begin this year total more than $8.5 million, including 12 Novel Concept Awards for innovative, cutting-edge projects, eight new fellowships and infrastructure funding.

To learn more about Professor Chenevix-Trench’s research project watch her interview on Channel 10 Brisbane tenplay.com.au/news/brisbane/2014/7/27/breast-cancer-pill