Using a State of the Art Tumour Bank to Investigate Drug Resistant Breast Cancer
Zhi Ling Teo
- Project description: Dr Teo will use samples from a breast tissue bank to examine the evolution of drug resistance and metastasis in HER2+ breast cancer.
- Why this work is needed: Advanced breast cancer and the development of resistance to treatment are the leading causes of death amongst breast cancer patients. The development of a unique tissue bank that contains samples from the same individuals across the complete course of disease (from the primary tumour to relapse to time of death) will enable Dr Teo to follow the full lifecycle of HER2+ breast cancer and understand how metastasis occurs.
- Expected outcomes: Dr Teo’s project will provide a new understanding of drug resistance and metastasis in HER2+ breast cancer, which may contribute to the development of new treatment strategies to address drug resistance and cancer spread.
Metastasis is an incurable spread of cancer and is the main cause of cancer death. It is evident that metastatic cancers differ from the primary tumors from which they originate. Yet, much is unknown about how breast cancer spreads.
One of the main challenges in understanding cancer metastasis is a lack of access to tissue from people with advanced disease. To address this gap in knowledge, a unique tissue bank has been established at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. The resource has samples from the entire course of disease within each patient (primary disease, metastasis at time of relapse and at time of death). This is the most complete breast cancer tissue bank in Australia.
In this NBCF-funded study, Dr Zhi Ling Teo will use the tissue bank to trace the full lifecycle of aggressive HER2+ breast cancer. In particular, her study will focus on changes in the immune system over the course of the disease and how this affects outcomes. The study will also identify changes in the biology of the tumours over time and determine how these variations contribute to metastasis.
Overall, the study will provide new information on ways to anticipate, inhibit or suppress the evolution of drug resistance and metastasis in HER2+ breast cancer.