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Research overview

Dr Rachael Natrajan, Functional Genomics team

Breast cancer is no longer thought to be a single disease, but is rather a collection of several diseases that we know are genetically different from one another. The majority of patients however, are treated with standard chemotherapies that are toxic and produce many unpleasant side effects.

Our aims are to identify new treatments in these different breast cancers in order to offer patients more personalised treatments. Recent technological advances have enabled us to sequence the whole of a patients DNA make-up in a matter of days. Currently huge sequencing efforts are being undertaken all around the world to identify and characterise cancer patients’ DNA. This will aid the identification of new mutations in genes that contribute to tumour development. However, the challenge is the further understanding of these mutations to tumour development, and whether we can target such mutations with drugs that are already available for clinical use. 

The aim of the research in the Functional Genomics team is to identify the key genetic events that lead to tumour growth and identify new treatments for these. By looking at cell line models that have specific mutations with many drugs that are available for patient use, we hope to identify a drug that stops these particular cancer cells from growing.

Ultimately our aims are to identify new treatments for specific subgroups of breast cancer patients. This will allow clinicians to choose the most non-toxic suitable drug for that particular patient in order to offer a more personalised treatment.

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