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Charity teams up with Leeds scientist to study spread of breast cancer to brain


Photo courtest of Breast Cancer Now

By Summayah Bhatti

A WEST YORKSHIRE scientist has been granted funding by the charity Breast Cancer Now to find a solution to stop secondary breast cancer spreading to the brain.  

The study, funded by a grant worth almost £200,000, will be dedicated to discovering how cells from the left breast can move to the brain.  

Over three years, the main aim will be to understand how protein helps cells and if they can be blocked in the process. The funding announcement coincides with Secondary Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

Dr Georgia Marvia, group leader and deputy head of brain tumour research at Leeds University, said: ““With this funding from Breast Cancer Now we can really start testing our hypothesis that blocking the molecule DOCK4 can stop breast cancer cells spreading to the brain.”


If the process is successful, it will initiate new projects in the future and the long-term plan will be to see if appropriate drugs can be designed to stop breast cancer altogether.  

Fiona Leslie, 49, from Aylesbury, is living with incurable metastatic breast cancer. Having first been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, Fiona underwent a course of chemotherapy, before learning that her breast cancer had  spread to her lungs and her spine. 

She said: “When you get the diagnosis that your breast cancer has reached your brain it is utterly terrifying. All you want to know is that something can be done to help.

“Secondary breast cancer is the breast cancer that kills – and many of us living with this incurable disease feel forgotten. Great progress has been made in treating breast cancer, but those of us living with secondaries are the ones who will die.

“Breast Cancer Now’s commitment to research that stops the disease spreading and stops women dying gives us not only reassurance but hope. Thousands of women are waiting desperately for more effective treatment combinations that can reach the brain and we urgently need more funding for research like this.”

Dr Richard Berks, senior research communications officer at Breast Cancer Now, said: “Dr Mavria’s research will help us understand how DOCK4 enables breast cancer to spread to the brain, and whether it could be a valid drug target for tackling brain metastases.

“This research could lead to new ways to predict and prevent secondary breast cancer, which could ultimately save lives.”


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