Pioneering study into the metabolism of breast cancer cells could spark new ways of classifying and treating the disease.
Almost 1,000 women in Surrey and 12,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Currently, the different types of breast cancer are categorised based on markers present on the cancer cells’ surface. But people with the disease don’t always react to treatment in the same way, even if they share the same type of cancer.
Dr Nick Plant, Reader in Molecular Toxicology, has been awarded a £100,000 grant from Breast Cancer Campaign for a pioneering study that aims to develop a new way of classifying, and ultimately treating, different types of breast cancer.
During the three-year project, Dr Plant will develop computer simulations representing the chemical reactions that occur inside cancer cells from 2,000 breast tumours. This will allow him to group different types of breast cancers based on how the cell’s metabolism has changed.
Dr Plant said, “Inside every cell there are thousands of chemical reactions taking place at once. The balance of chemical reactions inside breast cancer cells - known as the metabolism - differs from that in normal cells, which increases the ability of the breast cancer cells to survive and multiply.
“The grant I have received from Breast Cancer Campaign will enable me to study exactly how the metabolism of cancer cells differs – through which I hope to identify new ways to classify breast cancer, but also to find weak points that could be targeted with drugs.”