~ Breakthrough in Breast Research Brings New Hope

Daily Post, 31 Mar 2005

SCIENTISTS have made a major breakthrough in breast cancer research which could potentially increase the lifespan of a sufferer by 30%, it was confirmed yesterday.

Dr Judith Harmey of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), said that researchers had taken a successful step with the development of novel protein capable of blocking the breast cancer growth factor.

'It has been shown in a pre-clinical model that it can inhibit breast tumour growth, increase survival by 30% and reduce secondary growths in bones,' Dr Harmey said.

'The secondary growth in bone is what kills the majority of people.' The research from the scientists, which was explored at the RCSI research day in Dublin to showcase new medical studies, showed that the new protein blocks the insulin-like growth factor which is known to play a key role in the development of many cancers.

The study has found that the protein reduces the growth of both primary breast tumours and secondary tumours in the bone, as well as extending the lifespan by 30%.

The RCSI researchers, who include Dr Harmey, Professor David BouchierHayes and Anthony Ryan, anticipate that the protein will be of value in treating both breast and prostate cancers in the future.

Dr Harmey said there was a considerable amount of work to be done and it would be three or four years before the research could potentially be used on people with breast cancer.

'We are absolutely delighted. It has worked better than ever expected,' she said. 'Possibly in the future (it will be used), it is someway down the line, we have to make it in pharmaceutical form and check for toxicity.'

The most recent estimates from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland have shown that about 600 people lose their lives to breast cancer each year.

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