Overcoming resistance to breast cancer treatment

26 May, 2011

A pioneering expert in Medical Oncology at The University of Nottingham is to carry out a year-long study to find out why breast cancer treatments may stop working in some patients.

Dr Madhusudan, in the School of Molecular Medical Sciences, has discovered inhibitors to a protein called APE1 that repairs the cells damaged by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  With funding from Breast Cancer Campaign he will now look specifically at ways to overcome resistance to breast cancer treatment.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy normally destroys cancer cells but APE1 can repair the damaged DNA increasing the risk of the disease returning. The year-long study could help future patients in whom chemotherapy and radiotherapy does not work.

Dr Madhusudan, who was recently awarded the prestigious Goulstonian Lecturership by the Royal College of Physicians for his outstanding academic achievements, said: "Having discovered compounds that block APE1 activity, I will now begin the exciting process of testing it in the laboratory in cancer cells.

"I’m keen to find out whether APE1 inhibitors can make chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy treatments more toxic and effective at killing breast cancer cells."

The School of Molecular Medical Science is part of the world’s first breast cancer tissue bank, funded by Breast Cancer Campaign and made up of a coalition of centres across the UK.

This extremely important multi-million pound resource allows access to tissue samples to researchers working to improve our understanding and knowledge of breast cancer and its treatment.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and accounts for nearly one in three of all cancers in women. In the UK, around 48,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year — that’s 130 a day.

Breast Cancer Campaign aims to beat breast cancer by funding innovative world-class research to understand how breast cancer develops, leading to improved diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure.

The charity currently funds 97 projects worth almost £16.7m ($A25.7m) in 31 locations across the UK and Ireland.

Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of Research, Breast Cancer Campaign said, "Despite enormous progress, too many people still die from breast cancer. Dr Madhusudan’s pioneering research could change this by helping develop a new way to make radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments more effective."

Source: The University of Nottingham