Our research strategy
Against Breast Cancer funds groundbreaking cancer research into secondary spread breast cancer. Secondary spread, or metastasis, is currently an incurable condition which claims the lives of nearly 12,000 breast cancer patients each year in the UK and is the main cause of breast cancer-related deaths.
The ultimate goal of Against Breast Cancer is to stop secondary breast cancer from claiming lives, and our unique approach is to do this by focusing our research on prevention, detection and therapies as well as focusing our research strategy on investing in education for breast cancer researchers.
In the late 1980s, Dr. Anthony Leathem, a breast cancer pathologist, researcher and Co-Founder of Against Breast Cancer, discovered that there was a difference in the sugar arrangement on the surface of secondary breast cancer tissues compared to breast cancers that had not spread from the breast. For over 25 years we have focussed our research on factors which may affect tumour spread (metastasis) and have kept a special interest in the sugar biology (glycobiology) involved.
Recognising that to undertake this cancer research we needed a substantial collection of samples from, and data on, breast cancer patients in the UK led us to initiate our first diet & lifestyle study. DietCompLyf involved the recruitment of over 3000 patients from 56 hospitals across the UK. Each of the women were monitored for a period of 5 years after diagnosis. The samples and data collected provided a strong foundation for our research and are a valuable resource for future projects.
Investing in new research
Today, we are funding research to address the diagnostic and treatment challenges posed in the metastatic breast cancer field. We hope to increase the survival rates of all breast cancer patients and have identified three key areas for investigation: prevention, detection and therapies.
Prevention: Understanding Risk of Secondary Spread Associated with Diet & Lifestyle
More evidence is needed to determine the impact of diet and lifestyle factors on risk of recurrence and metastasis in primary breast cancer survivors. Against Breast Cancer fund research to identify which modifiable diet and lifestyle factors increase, reduce or do not impact the risk of recurrence and secondary spread of breast cancer. We aim to provide evidence-based advice to clinicians, patients and support centres.
Detection: Earlier Diagnosis of Secondary Breast Cancer
There is currently no reliable diagnostic test to monitor breast cancer patients for metastasis following primary breast cancer treatment. We fund research to discover biomarkers in blood or urine which indicate breast cancer metastases before any symptoms are experienced for the development of new diagnostic tests. The detection of aberrant glycosylation for monitoring and diagnosis of breast cancer metastasis is a focus for our charity research activities.
Against Breast Cancer envisage a future where breast cancer patients can be monitored for metastases using a home blood or urine test kit to reduce hospital visits and provide peace of mind through regular screening.
Therapies: New Treatments and Vaccination
There is currently no cure for secondary breast cancer and resistance to treatments can develop or be inherent to the breast cancer type. Ideally, any new treatment or vaccine developed by Against Breast Cancer should have as wide an application as possible, but it is recognised that secondary spread of different types of breast cancer may require different treatments and strategies. Identification of aberrantly glycosylated targets on metastatic breast cancer cells and the possible role of anti-glycan antibodies in the progression and control of breast cancer are a research focus for us.
Investing in education
Against Breast Cancer’s Fellowship Programme supports and develops young scientists who perform innovative research into increasing survival rates after breast cancer diagnosis, and is an important part of our research strategy.
Our Fellowship programme is associated with Oriel College, Oxford and provides funding for each of the Junior Research Fellows for a 3-year period. We recognise the need for long term support for challenging research programmes.
The Fellowships will support continued innovation in breast cancer therapeutics to advance our understanding of the development of secondary cancer in breast cancer patients.
To Provide a Platform for Communication between Scientists
Against Breast Cancer organise workshops and meetings to support the communication of recent technological advances in the glycobiology field and foster collaborations between scientists in order to advance our shared understanding of glycobiology in metastatic disease and expedite diagnosis and treatment research.