Weekly Breast Cancer Research Update – April 2016 – #1

April 4th, 2016

New genetic drivers of breast cancer identified

An NBCF-funded researcher at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland has co-led a major international study which has identified 26 genetic variants, or genetic ‘typos’, that increase a women’s risk of developing different subtypes of breast cancer.

Dr Stacey Edwards said that until now it wasn’t known if there was a genetic basis for ER-/PR-/HER2+ breast cancers, which make up a rare but treatable subtype of breast cancer. The findings will help doctors to predict those at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, and diagnose them more quickly so they receive the right treatment.


Research shows promise for breast cancer vaccine

The Mayo Clinic in the US will test two vaccines that could help the body fend off certain types of breast, ovarian and lung cancers. Researchers have been studying cancer vaccines for decades, with the aim of using the vaccine to teach the body’s immune system how to fight cancer.

Unlike traditional vaccines, which are used to prevent illnesses in healthy people, cancer vaccines in development are therapeutic, meaning they are used after a patient has been diagnosed with cancer – to prevent survivors from developing metastatic breast cancer.

NBCF note: NBCF-funded Dr Clare Slaney is developing an exciting new treatment which involves a transfusion of white blood cells plus the injection of a vaccine. The white blood cells are genetically modified to attack breast cancer cells, and the vaccine is made up of a virus that also has the power to attack cancer cells. She believes that once administered, the treatment could potentially remain effective even after the primary tumour is eradicated, eliminating any remnant or newly arising tumour cells. This is particularly important, as the threat of breast cancer recurrence in other organs is a constant worry for patients.