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Improving therapy in breast cancer associated with an inherited risk

Improving therapy in breast cancer associated with an inherited risk

PhD/Honours project

Are all genes associated with breast cancer functioning by the same basic mechanism? A new type of breast cancer drug called PARP inhibitors has proven to be highly effective in killing breast cancer in patients with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. The drug works by a mechanism called “synthetic lethality”, which means that PARP inhibitors have very few side effects because they are non-toxic in normal cells. Only 50% of the 1 in 10 breast cancers associated with inheritance are due to BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, and more than twenty other “BRCAx” genes have been identified.

This project aims to establish if these other BRCAx genes also show synthetic lethality with PARP inhibitors. The student will use a new genetic modification technique called CRISPR, to generate a set of breast cancer cell lines with BRCA1, BRCA2 or BRCAx mutations. The otherwise genetically identical cell lines will then be compared for their sensitivity or resistance to different chemotherapies, including PARP inhibitors. This approach will provide a unique set of tools to explore the role of different DNA repair genes in a) cancer susceptibility, b) treatment options and c) future clinical trials of new chemotherapy drugs.

Supervised by:

  • Dr Andrew Deans
  • Disease Focus:

  • Cancer
  • Research Unit:

  • Genome stability