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NHS sponsors charity on metastatic breast cancer study

Breast Cancer Now to study tissue shortly after death

edit-Breast_cancer_cells_1 

New charity Breast Cancer Now is to conduct a first-in-its-kind study on metastatic cancer tissues shortly after death.

With funding from Walk the Walk and sponsorship by The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, the LEGACY study allows patients with secondary breast cancer to donate their cancer tissues for research immediately after death.

The study relies on accessing secondary tissue quickly in order to maintain the integrity of key molecules in the tumours, such as RNA and proteins, so researchers can create cell models of breast cancer metastases. 

Researchers hope they will be able to gain better understanding of how some cancer cells can break away from the primary tumour in the breast, travel through the bloodstream and settle to form new tumours in the body.

Andrew Tutt, director at Breast Cancer Now's breast cancer research centre at the ICR and co-principal investigator, said: “The LEGACY study will allow us, for the first time, to build a comprehensive map of the spread of breast cancer and investigate each metastatic tumour in the finest detail. 

“Using state-of-the-art genetic and biological profiling, we hope to pinpoint what drives cancer growth and spread, and shine a light on its weak spots.”

As metastatic tumours form in sites that make taking biopsies difficult, it does not allow the entirety of the tissue to be analysed, but post-mortem studies such as LEGACY aims to provide researchers with the best opportunity to understand secondary breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Now's tissue bank will be expanding its collection of samples to include secondary breast cancer tissue from living patients where it is surgically possible, it addition to more post-death samples.

Peter Barry, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon at The Royal Marsden and chief investigator of the LEGACY study, said: “We still understand so little of the mechanisms that enable breast cancer to spread and become incurable. Because of where these tissues are located in the body, we've been unable to properly access and analyse these tissues in their entirety.

“These donated tissues will form an invaluable resource for breast cancer research, helping the patients who choose to be involved in the study leave a lasting legacy that will change the story for future generations.”

Breast Cancer Now, formed from a merger between Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, strives to aid the goal that everyone who develops breast cancer will live by 2050.

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

22nd June 2015

From: Research

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