Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New treatment for those at high risk of breast, ovarian cancer

Date:
March 27, 2014
Source:
Queen's University Belfast
Summary:
A breakthrough in research could signal new treatments for women at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The new discovery may mean women affected with BRCA1 could use drugs, which are already available, to reduce their risk of developing the disease, rather than undergo irreversible surgery.

Dr Kienan Savage. The new research by Dr Kienan Savage and Professor Paul Harkin proves there is a direct link between high levels of oestrogen and DNA damage, which causes cancer, in the breasts and ovaries.
Credit: Image courtesy of Queen's University Belfast

Cancer researchers at Queen's University Belfast have made a breakthrough which could signal new treatments for women at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Related Articles


Currently around one in 1,000 women in the UK carry what is known as a BRCA1 mutation -- the same condition that prompted well-known actress Angelina Jolie to undergo a double mastectomy. They have up to an 85 per cent risk of developing breast cancer, and up to 40 per cent risk of developing ovarian cancer, in their lifetimes.

Until now, preventive surgery -- mastectomy (breasts) and oophorectomy (ovaries) -- has been the only way of reducing the risk of developing both types of cancers.

The new discovery by researchers in Queen's Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) may mean women affected with BRCA1 could use drugs, which are already available, to reduce their risk of developing the disease, rather than undergo irreversible surgery.

In turn, such treatments would open up the possibility of some of these women, who might otherwise have an oophorectomy, still being able to have children.

The new research by Dr Kienan Savage and Professor Paul Harkin at CCRCB proves there is a direct link between high levels of estrogen and DNA damage, which causes cancer, in the breasts and ovaries.

Specifically, the scientists discovered that the cells of women with the BRCA1 mutation cannot effectively fight the very high levels of estrogen that exist in all women's breasts and ovaries, leaving them vulnerable to DNA damage.

While this link between estrogen, breast/ovarian cancer and BRCA1 mutation has been suspected by the scientific community for years, it has not been proven until now.

Dr Kienan Savage, from the CCRCB, and who led the research, said: "This discovery is very significant in the management of women with the BRCA1 gene mutation. It's the first really credible evidence that estrogen is driving cancer in women with a BRCA1 gene mutation. Because of this discovery, we now have the opportunity to propose an alternative treatment to surgery. It also opens up the possibility of pausing treatment for a period in order for women to have children, if desired.

"What also makes this exciting is that there are drugs already on the market which turn off estrogen production. In theory, we could use these drugs to chemically reduce estrogen production in women which could negate the need for irreversible surgery."

The Queen's-led research, which has been ongoing for four years, was carried out with funding from Cancer Focus NI and Cancer Research UK. It is carried in the latest edition of the USA-based journal Cancer Research.

Professor David Waugh, Director of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's, said: "This breakthrough by researchers at CCRCB is great news for women with the BRCA1 gene and the cancer research community as a whole. It is pivotal in that it reveals more about the mechanisms behind breast and ovarian cancer.

"This work of Dr Kienan Savage and Professor Paul Harkin is further example of the world-leading research being undertaken at Queen's which continues to advance knowledge and change lives."

Roisin Foster, Chief Executive, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, said: "Cancer Focus is delighted to fund this ground-breaking research into breast cancer, which has the potential in the forseeable future to benefit women all over the world. We are only able to support this vital work because of the generosity of our local community."

The researchers are currently seeking funding to launch clinical trials and hope to do so within 12 months. It is envisaged that, in the first instance, a small control trial will be carried out using a combination of two drugs on 12 women for a period of three months, using biopsy, blood and urine samples to track DNA damage.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University Belfast. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. I. Savage, K. B. Matchett, E. M. Barros, K. M. Cooper, G. Irwin, J. J. Gorski, K. S. Orr, J. Vohhodina, J. N. Kavanagh, A. F. Madden, A. Powell, L. Manti, S. S. McDade, B. H. Park, K. M. Prise, S. McIntosh, M. Salto-Tellez, D. J. Richard, C. T. Elliot, D. P. Harkin. BRCA1 DEFICIENCY EXACERBATES ESTROGEN INDUCED DNA DAMAGE AND GENOMIC INSTABILITY. Cancer Research, 2014; DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-2611

Cite This Page:

Queen's University Belfast. "New treatment for those at high risk of breast, ovarian cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327222454.htm>.
Queen's University Belfast. (2014, March 27). New treatment for those at high risk of breast, ovarian cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327222454.htm
Queen's University Belfast. "New treatment for those at high risk of breast, ovarian cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327222454.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Following the closure of schools and universities in Guinea because of the Ebola virus, students look for temporary work or gather in makeshift classrooms to catch up on their syllabus. Duration: 02:14 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins