News archive 2008
New treatment to detect and fight breast cancer02 Apr 2008, PR 59/08
Research led by Dr John Maher, Senior Research Fellow in the Division of Cancer Studies, School of Medicine at King’s, has developed a new way for the body to detect and fight breast cancer.
The study published in the Journal of Immunology has shown that the body’s own immune system could soon be used as a powerful new treatment to detect and fight breast cancer, according to the peer reviewed study published in the Journal of Immunology.
Project leader, Dr John Maher says: ‘This three year study demonstrates that we can make it possible for white blood cells to kill breast cancer cells. We hope to follow this study with a clinical trial in patients with incurable breast cancer’.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and accounts for nearly one in three of all cancers in women. Every year in the UK over 44,000 women and 300 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, and around 12,500 women and 100 men will die from the disease. The research for this study has been funded by Breast Cancer Campaign.
White blood cells play an important role in recognising and fighting infection, such as a cold or flu, by spotting proteins in the bacteria which cause the infection that are different from normal cells. But they are currently unable to recognise cancer cells.
Dr Scott Wilkie, working with Dr Maher on the study, has developed a method to alter white blood cells so they are able to identify and kill breast cancer cells.
Dr Wilkie is confident that this treatment could work in humans by extracting the patient’s white blood cells from a blood sample, modifying them in the laboratory and then introducing them back into the patient, similar to a blood transfusion.
Pamela Goldberg, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Campaign said: ‘This research could benefit thousands of women with advanced or incurable breast cancer. We hope that this remarkable work can be translated into treatments for patients in the future’.
Notes to editors
King’s College London
King’s College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher 2007) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King’s has 19,700 students from more than 140 countries, and 5,400 employees. King’s has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. The College is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings and has an annual income of approximately £400 million. An investment of £500 million has been made in the redevelopment of its estate.
King’s has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, social sciences, the health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, and has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres - more than any other university.
Breast Cancer Campaign currently funds 92 projects worth over £11.3 million in 50 locations across the UK. For more information about Breast Cancer Campaign visit: www.breastcancercampaign.org
This study was supported by a Royal College of Pathologists/Health Foundation Senior Clinician Scientist Research Fellowship, a Breast Cancer Campaign Project Grant and a programme grant from Cancer Research UK
Kate Moore, Public Relations Officer (Health Schools)
Public Relations Department
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