Search icon

Health

15th Aug 2018

New Irish scientific study could decrease breast cancer relapse rates

Anna Daly

breast cancer

This could seriously change things.

Irish scientists have made a huge breakthrough in breast cancer research.

The findings relate to triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is the most aggressive form of breast cancer and the most difficult to treat.

The scientists at NUI Galway discovered why there is such a high relapse rate for women with this form of cancer who undergo chemotherapy.

TNBC accounts for around 15 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses every year, and often occurs in younger women.

As it stands, about 34 percent of women who have undergone chemotherapy for TNBC will relapse, usually within five years.

breast cancer

The breakthrough findings have allowed researchers to develop a drug that could potentially improve people’s response to the initial chemo treatment and also reduce the relapse rates.

The research group, led by¬†Prof Afshin Samali, discovered that, by targeting a specific area, they could reduce the production of “survival signals” coming from chemotherapy-treated cancer calls and reduce the growth of new cancer cells by 50 percent.

The drug also led to regression of eight out of ten cancers using only chemotherapy, compared with just three out of ten when treated without the drug.

Prof Afshin Samali who led the study said:

“Unlike other forms of breast cancer, there are no targeted therapies available for triple negative breast cancer.”

Chemotherapy is the main form of treatment for TNBC so this study, if brought into clinical use, could have hugely beneficial effects for those diagnosed with this form of cancer.

“We are delighted to lead the way in identifying a new therapeutic strategy for TNBC patients who are most in need of better treatment options.”

The findings were published this week in the journal Nature Communications.

The study was funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Cancer Society, and Horizon 2020, with initial funding from Breast Cancer Now.