In our first year Make 2nds Count donated over £150,000 to support a pioneering research project at the University of Edinburgh’s Breast Cancer Translational Research Group at the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre.
Led by Academic Consultant Medical Oncologist Dr Olga Oikonomidou the study will help us better understand secondary breast cancer by identifying the specific gene changes, or mutations, that drive cancer cell growth in individual patients.
It focuses on a class of drugs called CDK 4/6 inhibitors, which have been one of the most important developments in treatments for metastatic breast cancer over the past 20 years.
The team is analysing blood samples from patients with metastatic breast cancer, an approach called a liquid biopsy. We are looking for measurable biological changes that indicate whether the patient is responding to specific drug treatments. By sequencing the tumour DNA found in blood samples from patients treated with these drugs, we hope to pinpoint specific changes that could help us understand which patients are likely to respond best to treatment with CDK4/6 inhibitors.
Make 2nds Count is funding a post-doctoral research assistant to help drive forward this vital research and is contributing to the purchase of the kits to extract the genetic material, support sequencing and mass spectrometry costs. We hope the knowledge gained from this research will eventually enable targeted, effective, personalised treatments so that people with secondary breast cancer live longer and have a better quality of life.
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
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.