QUB breakthrough in cancer treatment

Published Friday, 28 March 2014
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Scientists at Queen's University in Belfast have made a "breakthrough" in the treatment of women at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

QUB breakthrough in cancer treatment
BRCA1 prompted actress Angelina Jolie to have a double mastectomy. (© Getty)

The new discovery means women with the BRCA1 mutation - which affects around one in 1,000 women in the UK - could be treated with drugs rather than undergoing surgery.

Women with the BRCA1 mutation have up to an 85% risk of developing breast cancer, and up to 40% risk of developing ovarian cancer, in their lifetimes. Up until now the only way of reducing their risk has been preventive surgery - a mastectomy and oophorectomy.

Dr Kienan Savage explained: "Because of this discovery, we now have the opportunity to propose an alternative treatment to surgery. It also opens up the possibility of pausing treatment for a period in order for women to have children, if desired."

The new research claims to have shown a direct link between high levels of oestrogen and DNA damage, which causes cancer, in the breasts and ovaries.

"This discovery is very significant in the management of women with the BRCA1 gene mutation", continued Dr Savage. "It's the first really credible evidence that oestrogen is driving cancer in women with a BRCA1 gene mutation."

The findings come from research which has been conducted by the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at QUB over a four year period.

Researchers are now seeking funding to launch clinical trials and hope to do so within 12 months.

They plan to carry out a small, control trial at first using a combination of two drugs on 12 women for a period of three months, using biopsy, blood and urine samples to track DNA damage.

Welcoming the findings, Roisin Foster of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland said: "Cancer Focus is delighted to fund this ground-breaking research into breast cancer.

"It has the potential in the foreseeable future to benefit women all over the world."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
unknown in belfast wrote (302 days ago):
Its all about money until the disease lands on the doors of those who authorise the drugs at outrages prices it will be about the money,why not just go ahead with research&save people quicker&not at a given price. Who really has the right to put a price on a life
Larry in Belfast wrote (302 days ago):
When it comes to education, Queens are I suppose average, but when it involves research then they are undoubtedly TOPS. Keep going researchers you are doing a great job.
your the best in belfast wrote (307 days ago):
well done guys, cancer is a death sentence.
Ryan in An Dun wrote (307 days ago):
While these breakthroughs are good news it's kind of like a false hope. The pharmaceutical companies rule. There is no money in a cure but so called ongoing treatments are a better option for them. There are also that many different strands and areas that a cancer can infect. I have lost a few family members to this awfull disease. The world is run and ruined by money and wealth. And I'm afraid that's the way it will likely to stay. Man will destroy himself.
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