Significant research game changer targets breast cancer stem cells | Breast Cancer Campaign

Significant research game changer targets breast cancer stem cells

Dr Rob Clarke

An exciting new development in Breast Cancer Campaign’s research has been published today, which could change the outcome for women diagnosed with HER-2 positive breast cancer, a form of the disease which can often be aggressive.

In a significant scientific breakthrough, Campaign Scientific Fellow, Dr Rob Clarke, funded by Asda, has proven that breast cancer stem cells from patients can be directly targeted with a drug in development, effectively stopping the root of the breast cancer within the tumour. This is the first evidence breast cancer stem cells taken directly from patients can be successfully treated for the disease.

Dr Rob Clarke’s new findings give hope that new treatments could be developed, which would knock out the cancer stem cells responsible for breast cancer recurring and spreading, therefore saving lives. 

Although this research focuses on the HER-2 positive form of breast cancer, this affects roughly 30% of those diagnosed with breast cancer, or 15,000 people a year. Dr Clarke’s new approach also demonstrates that targeting a particular molecule (Interleukin-8) has the potential to stop all types of breast cancer recurring and spreading as well as other cancers and so may benefit many other patients.

Dr Rob Clarke commented on the new findings: “This research is in its early stages, but is hugely exciting in showing real promise for women with breast cancer. As targeted drugs similar to those used in this study have already been tested in patients, the time it takes to bring these findings into clinical trials will be significantly reduced. Targeting breast cancer stem cells takes us one step closer to better clinical options for women diagnosed with the disease and we’re eagerly looking forward to what the next stages of our investigation will bring.”

“Breast cancer stem cells hold the key to vital new approaches and treatments to help us beat breast cancer once and for all. We’re making progress every day but we can only get there with charities like Breast Cancer Campaign and their support of our work.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Breast Cancer Campaign’s Chief Executive, said: “This research is a real game changer in the fight against breast cancer. Dr Clarke has taken a crucial new step by proving that breast cancer stem cells can be targeted which will improve treatments in the future and extend women’s lives. At Breast Cancer Campaign we fund only the very best research and this is one of those stand-out projects; bringing real patient benefit from the best and brightest minds working to tackle breast cancer. We’re hoping to see this work changing the treatment landscape in the next decade.”

Dr Rob Clarke was the first breast cancer researcher in the UK to be awarded a Breast Cancer Campaign Scientific Fellowship. Together with co-author of Clinical Cancer Research journal’s new findings, Dr Gillian Farnie, he has been funded by the charity’s partnership with Asda through its Tickled Pink campaign which contributes £1 million to breast stem cell research in the UK.

Read more about Dr Rob Clarke