Giving hope to those affected
by secondary breast cancer

Research. Support. Education.

Co-funding grant awarded to the University of Liverpool

11th November 2020 News

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The PRIMROSE study
CI: Prof Carlo Palmieri

Co-funding grant awarded to the University of Liverpool to support the study of the genomic landscape of brain metastasis secondary to breast cancer utilising cell-free DNA derived from cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer in the UK. The most severe and incurable form of breast cancer is secondary BC. Secondary BC occurs when cancer cells spread from the breast to other parts of the body such as the liver and brain. Patients with secondary BC are living longer because of improvements in drug treatments and as a result many more are developing brain metastasis (BM).

BM results in poor quality of life and is associated with shorter survival. Currently, there are no effective drug treatments for BM and no good way to assess which drug might work the best for individual patients.

Cancer cells have abnormalities in the machinery that controls their behaviour, so called DNA. Generally, the only way of analysing such DNA is by taking a piece of the tumour via a biopsy.

However, this is not always possible for a tumour in the brain where tumours can be inaccessible. However brain mets leak DNA into the fluid that surrounds the brain – this is called the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). One arm of the PRIMROSE study will assess if women with secondary BC find it acceptable to have a procedure called a lumbar puncture (also known as a spinal tap) to sample the CSF. This fluid will then be analysed to look for DNA shed by
the brain mets. This will help us understand what abnormities exist in the DNA of brain mets and help predict which drugs might work best for those brain tumours.

The ultimate aim is to enable treatment selection based on the abnormalities in the DNA which comes from the CSF, otherwise known as ‘personalised medicine’.

The aim is to recruit 40 patients overall, and Make 2nds Count are funding the analysis of 8 samples of CSF. This means the team can recruit an additional 8 patients onto the study.

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