Identifying and Targeting the ‘Seeds’ of Metastatic Breast Cancer
- Project description: Dr Delphine Merino will provide insight into the growth and spread of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) by studying cell samples from patients.
- Why this work is needed: Metastasis is the main cause of mortality for patients with breast cancer. When breast cancer recurs, there are limited treatments available. The findings from this project will lead to a better understanding on how to prevent tumour spread and treat the advanced disease.
- Expected outcomes: Dr Merino’s work will help to identify new treatment strategies and drug targets to improve treatment outcomes for patients with metastatic breast cancer, which currently has significantly lower survival rates than other breast cancers.
Despite improved health outcomes for people with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) over the last few decades, recurrence and spread (metastasis) is still common. This means that men and women who have had a breast cancer experience, or are at risk, live with a sense of fear of the tumour appearing or coming back.
NBCF-funded researcher Dr Delphine Merino aims to reduce these fears by providing more information regarding the mechanisms of TNBC tumour growth and spread. This creates scope to optimise the use of biopsies for outcome prediction. In this study, Dr Merino and her team will investigate the genetic properties of the most aggressive cell types in breast cancer tumours and target the ‘seeds’ of metastasis.
To fulfill these aims, Dr Merino will use world-leading technology to label thousands of individual cells in samples from patients. She will then be able to study their biology before, during and after treatment. This strategy will allow comparison between the genetic properties of the cell with their tendency to metastasise, or develop drug resistance. This information will also enable the optimisation of biopsies taken in metastatic disease.