Leicester scientist developing blood test to monitor how breast cancer changes over time

Posted by ap507 at Nov 26, 2014 03:55 PM |
Dr David Guttery involved in new cancer study

Issued by Breast Cancer Campaign on 26 November 2014

A leading Leicester scientist is developing a new test that reads the DNA released from breast cancer cells into the blood, which will help doctors monitor how a patient’s breast cancer changes over time.

If breast cancer comes back or spreads to a new location, it can differ from the original tumour and subsequently treatments may not work as effectively. This means there is a need for new methods to be able to easily and safely monitor how the disease is evolving and responding to treatments.

Currently, a needle biopsy is needed to check whether a person’s tumour has changed. However, with support from a grant worth around £20,000 from research charity Breast Cancer Campaign, Dr David Guttery, based at The University of Leicester, is in the process of developing a less invasive method to do this, using a blood test.

Dr Guttery is designing a blood test tailored to read the code of the DNA released from breast cancer cells, called ‘cell-free DNA’ (cfDNA). Current cfDNA tests in development are designed to check for mutations in cfDNA from cancer patients, but Dr Guttery is creating the first of these blood tests especially tailored for breast cancer patients.

Katherine Woods, Research Communications Manager at Breast Cancer Campaign, says:

“The new blood test Dr Guttery is developing will help doctors monitor how a patient’s breast cancer changes over time, meaning patients can be given the most appropriate treatments for them.

“Tailoring treatments in this way could increase patients’ chances of survival, as well as their quality of life, bringing us one step closer to our goal that by 2030 what causes different tumours to grow and progress will be identified, enabling us to select the best treatment for every patient.”

In order to develop the test, Dr Guttery will use blood samples donated by people with advanced breast cancer, as well as breast cancer cells grown in the lab.

Leicestershire has a significantly higher incidence rate of breast cancer than the England average, with around 600 women in Leicestershire diagnosed with breast cancer each year on average, and almost 150 women dying from the disease each year on average.


Media contact:

Heather Collins, PR & Celebrity Manager, Breast Cancer Campaign

Email: hcollins@breastcancercampaign.org  twitter: @CampaignPR 

Notes to editors:

  • Breast Cancer Campaign funds innovative breast cancer research, bringing together the brightest minds to share knowledge to produce better, quicker results to overcome and outlive breast cancer.
  • As of March 2014, Breast Cancer Campaign funds 88 research grants throughout the UK and Ireland, worth £12.9 million
  • Breast Cancer Campaign has just launched the campaign ‘#spreadtheword to stop the spread’, to highlight that breast cancer is not a done deal. Visit breastcancercampaign/spreadtheword
  • Breast Cancer Campaign’s action plan Help us find the cures sets out 66 key actions Breast Cancer Campaign will take to address the gaps in breast cancer research to overcome and outlive breast cancer by 2050. breastcancercampaign.org/breast-cancer-research/help-us-find-the-cures
  • The Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank, the UK’s first ever national breast cancer tissue bank, is a unique collaboration with four leading research institutions to create a vital resource of breast cancer tissue for researchers across the UK and Ireland. Visit breastcancertissuebank.org
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and accounts for nearly one in three of all cancers in women. In the UK, around 50,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year - that’s 138 a day. Visit breastcancercampaign.org or follow us at twitter.com/bccampaign

Incidence rate for breast cancer in Leicestershire is 138.94 cases per 100,000 women, which is significantly higher than England incidence rate of 124.85 per 100,000.

Source of information: Incidence, mortality, and survival statistics were obtained from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (https://indicators.ic.nhs.uk/webview/). Incidence statistics were based upon women diagnosed between 2009 and 2011. Mortality statistics were based upon women dying from breast cancer between 2010 and 2012.

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