Investigating the biology of different cell types in the normal breast

Start Year: 2010
Finish Year: 2012
Chief Investigator: Dr Chanel Smart
Grant Type: Novel Concept Awards
Institution: University of Queensland

It is clear that ‘luminal’ and ‘basal’ breast tumours both look and behave differently. Greater understanding of these differences is needed in order to successfully attack these cancers. The growing popularity of the ‘luminal’ versus ‘basal’ distinction in describing breast cancers prompts some reflection on the origin of these terms. They are currently being used to describe any similarity with the normal luminal and basal cell compartments, the two major cell types which comprise the breast epithelium.

Dr Smart believes that this original division between luminal and basal was somewhat simple. We now have both the evidence and the technology to further stratify and characterise the cells types of the normal breast. Furthermore, in depth investigation into the different biology of normal luminal and basal cells is necessary to truly understand the inherent differences between these cells types.

This study examines how these differing cell types respond to environmental stress, particularly in response to agents that damage DNA, and whether certain genes play a more dominant role in one cell type over the other. This study aims to begin answering these important long unanswered questions by using cutting edge technology to analyse these different cell types derived from precious samples of normal human breast tissue.