Defining the genes controlling breast cancer growth and spread

Start Year: 2011
Finish Year: 2013
Chief Investigator: Dr Alexander Swarbrick
Grant Type: Early Career Fellowship
Institution: The Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Early Career Fellowship

Women with locally confined breast cancer have a relatively good prognosis, especially if their cancers respond to targeted therapies such as tamoxifen or herceptin. However, for many women with other types of breast cancer, the prognosis can be much worse. In particular, women with ‘basal-like’ breast cancer, which is unresponsive to current targeted therapies, have a poor prognosis. Furthermore, if cancer has metastasised through the body, the outlook is poor.

Dr Swarbrick is studying the genes driving the growth and metastasis of basal-like breast cancers with the aim of finding new ways to predict breast cancer behaviour and ultimately to find new targets for its treatment. His team has substantial preliminary evidence implicating a family of genes call ‘IDs’ in these processes. To definitively prove their future value in the clinic, this study uses cutting-edge techniques and concepts to define the role of ID genes in breast cancer growth and metastasis.