RCSI researchers discover new way to target secondary breast cancer that has spread to the brain – EurekAlert

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image: Pictured are (l-r) Dr Damir Vareslija and Professor Leonie Young, Department of Surgery, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre (BRCC). view more 
Credit: RCSI/ Patrick Bolger
Friday, 28 January 2022: A study led by researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre (BRCC) has revealed a potential new way to treat secondary breast cancer that has spread to the brain, using existing drugs.
The study, published in Nature Communications, was funded by Breast Cancer Ireland with support from Breast Cancer Now and Science Foundation Ireland.
Most breast cancer related deaths are a result of treatment relapse leading to spread of tumours to many organs around the body. When secondary breast cancer, also known as metastatic breast cancer, spreads to the brain it can be particularly aggressive, sometimes giving patients just months to live.
The RCSI study focused on genetically tracking the tumour evolution from diagnosis of primary breast to the metastatic spread in the brain in cancer patients. The researchers found that almost half of the tumours had changes in the way they repair their DNA, making these tumours vulnerable to an existing type of drug known as a PARP inhibitor. PARP inhibitor drugs work by preventing cancer cells to repair their DNA, which results in the cancer cells dying.
“There are inadequate treatment options for people with breast cancer that has spread to the brain and research focused on expanding treatment options is urgently needed. Our study represents an important development in getting one step closer to a potential treatment for patients with this devastating complication of breast cancer,” commented Professor Leonie Young, the study’s Principal Investigator.
“By uncovering these new vulnerabilities in DNA pathways in brain metastasis, our research opens up the possibility of novel treatment strategies for patients who previously had limited targeted therapy options”, said study author Dr Damir Varešlija.
The research, led by Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre investigators Professor Leonie Young, Dr Nicola Cosgrove, Dr Damir Varešlija and Professor Arnold Hill, was carried out in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic and University of Pittsburgh, USA.
About RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences
RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is a world-leading university for Good Health and Well-being. Ranked second in the world for its contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, it is exclusively focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide.
RCSI is an international not-for-profit university, headquartered in Dublin. It is among the top 250 universities worldwide in the World University Rankings (2022). RCSI has been awarded Athena Swan Bronze accreditation for positive gender practice in higher education.
Visit the RCSI MyHealth Expert Directory to find the details of our experts across a range of healthcare issues and concerns. Recognising their responsibility to share their knowledge and discoveries to empower people with information that leads them to better health, these clinicians and researchers are willing to engage with the media in their area of expertise.
About the Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre (BRCC)
The shared vision of the Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre (BRCC) is to provide the very best cancer service to patients in Ireland by combining first class clinical care with ground-breaking research and high quality education and training.
The centre works closely with other hospitals and community services to ensure appropriate aspects of patient care are delivered as close to home as possible. The centre aims to collaborate with leading cancer centres/ institutes in Europe to continuously improve, share best practice, respond to the needs of patients, and benchmark processes and outcomes to enable world-class patient care.
Nature Communications
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Copyright © 2022 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Copyright © 2022 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)


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