Sheffield professor secures grant for innovative research into breast cancer

Professor Claire Lewis has received funding for breast cancer research
Professor Claire Lewis has received funding for breast cancer research
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A prominent Sheffield scientist has been awarded a grant worth more than £140,000 for cutting-edge research into breast cancer.

Professor Claire Lewis, from the University of Sheffield, has received the grant from research charity Breast Cancer Now.

Her research aims to stop triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) returning and spreading to other parts of the body after chemotherapy.

A two-year project will see if targeting two types of molecules, CXCR4 and VEGFA, could prevent or delay TNBC returning.

Professor Lewis and her team will examine the effects of drugs which inhibit those molecules in mice with 'triple negative' tumours.

Some of the mice will receive chemotherapy before surgery, while others will receive it after their primary tumours have been removed.

Both groups of mice will receive drugs that inhibit CXCR4 and/or VEGFA, and the effectiveness of the sequence and combinations of treatments will be analysed.

Using non-invasive imaging techniques, the mice will be monitored over time for signs of breast cancer returning and forming secondary tumours in the lungs, liver and bone. The primary and secondary tumours that have been removed from the mice will then be examined, to assess the effects of CXCR4 and VEGFA inhibitors on the cells within the breast tumours.

Professor Lewis said: “With this funding from Breast Cancer Now we hope to develop a new way to make chemotherapy much more effective in patients with TNBC.

"This drug combination could also be used to treat patients with other forms of breast cancer.”

Rachel Leahy, research communications officer at Breast Cancer Now, said the research could pave the way for exciting developments in treating the disease.

“If Professor Lewis finds that targeting both CXCR4 and VEGFA is an effective strategy, this research could quickly progress to a new clinical trial, as the drugs in question are already in use for treating other types of cancers," she said.

“Professor Lewis’ research could ultimately lead to new combinations of treatments that could stop breast cancer spreading and becoming incurable, providing much-needed options for those with triple negative breast cancer, which could ultimately save lives.