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Grant awarded for breast cancer research

Breast self exam

Breast self exam

Press release issued: 20 October 2008

Why do breast cells grow out of control? The answer could be a step closer thanks to a grant of around £200,000 from one of the UK’s leading breast cancer research charities.

Why do breast cells grow out of control?  The answer could be a step closer thanks to a grant of around £200,000 from one of the UK’s leading breast cancer research charities, Breast Cancer Campaign, to University of Bristol scientist, Dr Claire Perks.

The grant forms part of £2.3 million awarded to 20 projects around the UK and will fill one of the research gaps identified by the country's top breast cancer experts in a recent study carried out by the charity.

Breast tumours form when breast cells grow out of control. Although the body has systems in place to try and prevent this from happening often in breast cancer these no longer work.

A protein called PTEN normally acts as a brake to stop normal cells in the body growing out of control. However if the PTEN brake stops working, the breast cells can multiply and turn cancerous. 

With previous Breast Cancer Campaign funding Dr Perks discovered another protein called IGFBP-2, also found in breast cells, stops PTEN from doing its job, allowing breast cells to grow without the normal control system in place. 

Dr Perks, Senior Research Fellow in the IGF and Metabolic Endocrinology group based in the Department of Clinical Science at North Bristol, said: “With my project grant I will study breast cancer cells in the laboratory to gain a better understanding of the interaction between PTEN and IGFBP-2 and their effect on breast cells.”

Pamela Goldberg, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Campaign said: “When more is known about the relationship between PTEN and IGFBP-2 it will help scientists to develop new treatments to restore the protective function of PTEN, resulting in an entirely new way of treating breast cancer.”

Further information

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.

Currently it supports 110 research projects, worth over £14.3 million, in 45 centres of excellence across the UK.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and accounts for nearly one in three of all cancer in women.

In the UK, almost 46,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year - that’s around 125 a day.

Please contact Joanne Fryer for further information.
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