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Monthly breast cancer research update – July 2017

August 4th, 2017

In July, breast cancer researchers made strong progress in better understanding the biology of breast cancer – how it grows and spreads, the role stem calls play, how cancer cells can trick healthy cells. They also gave hope to many women with triple negative breast cancer confirming that an emerging type of new treatment may be more effective with less side effects.


Queensland researchers have found that switching off a protein produced in breast cancer cells can stop the cancer progressing. This study may lead to the development of more effective therapies for metastatic breast cancers that become resistant to currently available treatments.

Personalised treatment

Cancer stem cells are immortal cells within a tumour that can divide and self-renew as well as give rise to many cell types that make up the tumour. According to a team of Canadian researchers a there is now a way to use existing drugs to kill cancer stem cells. Additionally, a unique feature of cancer stem cells may be used to ensure targeted cancer therapies are given to the right patients.

Cancer biology

Some types of cancer have a rather clever way of giving themselves a boost by tricking healthy cells inside tumours into producing particles that look like viruses. This has puzzled researchers for years, but a new study explains exactly what’s going on inside these cells, opening the way to new diagnostic tools and possibly new treatments for some of the most aggressive forms of cancer.


An exciting new class of drugs for treating metastatic breast cancer, known as cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors, are confirmed to have manageable side-effects and be well tolerated, according to a new comprehensive study. The excitement surrounding CDK inhibitors is due to their great potential for significantly lengthening the time that metastatic breast cancer can be controlled for some women.

Triple negative

A treatment for one of the more hard-to-treat types of breast cancer could be a step closer thanks to the discovery of a potential new therapy. The scientists have found that a new drug called THZ-1 is capable of halting the growth of triple negative breast cancer. They say that while use of THZ-1 in humans is still some way off and further study is necessary, the discovery does open up a wider range of new and less toxic treatment options.

breast cancer research
NBCF-funded Dr Normand Pouliot is investigating metastatic breast cancer

Triple negative breast cancer is one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer, and as yet it doesn’t have a targeted treatment and survival is lower for women diagnosed with this type of breast cancer. NBCF-funded Dr Normand Pouliot is investigating whether existing treatments (such as tamoxifen) can be made to work for triple negative breast cancer.