Queen’s University Belfast to study individualized radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer

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Individualised radiotherapy treatment based on a person’s genetic make up could soon become a reality, according to Breast Cancer Campaign.

Professor Kevin Prise from Queen’s University Belfast has been awarded a three year project grant by the charity to study how genes are involved in the effectiveness of radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

The grant, worth more than £160,000, is part of £2 million awarded to 20 projects in the UK and Ireland.

Radiotherapy is given to women with breast cancer to destroy any remaining breast cancer cells after surgery and limit the chance of the disease returning. However, it is believed that a range of genes including BRCA1, BRCA2 and Fanconi Anemia work together to prevent the cells being destroyed by radiotherapy, as they appear to repair the damage caused to the DNA of breast cancer cells.

In the laboratory at Queen’s, Professor Prise and his team will treat breast cancer cells with radiotherapy to see why this is happening and find out why these genes have an impact on the success of the treatment.

Professor Prise said, “We are grateful for this funding from Breast Cancer Campaign. We hope our findings will lead to methods to predict which patients will gain limited benefit from this treatment. The course of radiotherapy could then be adapted to the individual to ensure they receive a more effective dose.”

Arlene Wilkie, Director of Research and Policy, Breast Cancer Campaign said, “There are many different genes which are important in both the development and treatment of breast cancer. Identifying them and finding out more about their role is a vital area of breast cancer research and we are delighted to be funding this project.”

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