Identifying and Targeting the ‘Seeds’ of Metastatic Breast Cancer

Start Year: 2019
Finish Year: 2021
Chief Investigator: Dr Delphine Merino
Institution: La Trobe University / Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute

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.