An Oxford scientist has been awarded major funding to tackle breast cancer that has spread to the brain.
Oxford University’s professor Nicola Sibson has been granted almost £200,000 by research charity Breast Cancer Now to fund research and uncover treatment combinations to control the spread of breast cancer.
Nearly 600 women in Oxfordshire are diagnosed with this type of cancer every year, and over 100 women in the county die from the disease each year.
The cash boost marked Secondary Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Friday last week – all 11,500 women that die as a result of breast cancer each year in the UK will have seen their cancer spread.
That’s where Professor Sibson and her team come in.
They will undertake a three-year project to pinpoint which combinations of anti-inflammatory drugs reduce the growth of breast tumours in the brain most effectively, and whether these could also be given alongside radiotherapy with greater effect.
Scientists will implant breast tumours into the brains of mice, before testing a range of anti-inflammatory drugs and examining the effect on tumour growth.
The team will then combine the most effective anti-inflammatories with radiotherapy in mice to identify which combinations best control tumour growth in the brain.
Professor Sibson, professor of imaging neuroscience at the university, said: “We urgently need to find ways to treat brain metastases [secondary growth] more effectively and improve survival rates.
“With this funding from Breast Cancer Now our aim is to increase treatment options for patients suffering metastatic spread to the brain.
“We hope that by targeting the innate immune system we can halt or reduce tumour growth, and enhance the effectiveness of radiotherapy.”
Dr Richard Berks, senior research communications officer at Breast Cancer Now, said: “Our ambition is that by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live…Prof Sibson’s project could help bring us one step closer to our 2050 vision and we’d like to thank our supporters across Oxford who continue to help make our world-class research possible.”