Breast cancer

Every year over 45,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the UK. About 75% of the women are cured but 25% still die of the disease. Breast cancer research in Cambridge is aiming to increase the survival rate through...

  • Large-scale population studies to determine which genes are responsible for causing breast cancer
  • Genetic barcoding to identify different cancer types and to help develop specific treatments
  • Testing new treatments on patients in clinical trials
Advances in breast cancer research in Cambridge
Barcoding breast cancer

A major research project analysing the genetic barcodes of 2,000 breast cancer samples has identified 10 different types of breast cancer. Each has a different survival rate and requires a different course of treatment. The results of this research are being used to develop new tests to diagnose different breast cancer types, which will then enable each patient to be given the most effective course of treatment. Cambridge is also helping to unravel the full genetic sequence for breast cancer, as part of an international initiative to identify the genetic blueprint of 50 cancers.

Tumour sample bank

The Cambridge Breast Cancer Research Unit has collected over 20,000 tumour samples from breast cancer patients. This large diverse collection of tissue samples will be essential in the development and testing of new ways to diagnose the different types of breast cancer.

Cambridge Breast Unit

Cambridge has established a ‘one-stop’ clinic, the Cambridge Breast Unit, for rapid diagnosis of breast cancer. The diagnostic accuracy of the triple assessment (clinical examination, imaging and biopsy) is 99.6%. Nine-year survival rates of breast cancer patients treated at Addenbrookes Hospital is 84%, compared with a regional average of 78%. Around half of patients diagnosed with breast cancer at the clinic enter a clinical trial run by the Cambridge Breast Cancer Research Unit. Find out more about the Cambridge Breast Unit.

Response to hormone therapy

Researchers in Cambridge have identified how the oestrogen receptor-cistrome in primary tumours modulates response to hormone therapy. They demonstrated differential oestrogen receptor (ER) binding events in primary breast cancer (a first ever) and revealed a role for the pioneer factor FoxA1 as a crucial ER regulatory protein in drug resistant contexts, providing the impetus to develop therapeutic FoxA1 inhibitors.

Improved monitoring of response to therapy

Repeat biopsies to study genomic evolution as a result of therapy are difficult, invasive and may be confounded by intra-tumour heterogeneity. We have demonstrated the clear advantages of using circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) over other tests as a biomarker for monitoring treatment response and disease progression in patients with metastatic disease. Specifically, we have developed a new approach, sequencing of cancer exomes in plasma, to study a series of patients who have developed resistance to chemotherapy, hormone therapy and Trastuzumab, with the aim of identifying potential causing mutations.

Principal investigators and consultants

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Early phase clinical trials, including expertise in: - first-in-human studies & drug combination trials - new small molecule & antibody therapeutics - development of pharmacodynamic and predictive...
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University of Cambridge
My group's research interests lies under the broader field of Chemical Biology. In particular, we are developing novel site-specific and rapid protein modification methods with the aim to use these to...
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a well-established, clinically applicable, tool for determining tissue morphology. The techniques of molecular imaging seek, through the use of appropriate probe molecules,...
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My research concentrates on the clinical aspects of breast disease diagnosis and treatment and is undertaken in the context of a busy clinical job. It is conducted in a multi-disciplinary setting with frequent...
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BREAST CANCER FUNCTIONAL GENOMICS The molecular taxonomy of breast cancers has revealed a complexity that suggests that different cancers have different cells of origin. The identification and characterisation...
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We are interested in understanding how Estrogen Receptor (ER) transcription contributes to breast cancer cell growth and to response to endocrine therapies. We use genomic and proteomic tools to identify the...
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Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
PhD 2006: Development of 3D radiotherapy techniques in breast cancer. Led to development of commercial system of 3D ultrasound for breast radiotherapy planning (Orpheus, Qados). Chief Investigator (CI) of NCRN...
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Clinical and Translational Research in Breast and Gynaecological Cancers with the Aim of Individualising Cancer Treatments for Patients.
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My main research area is genetic susceptibility to cancer, with particular emphasis on breast and prostate cancer. I also have particular interests in the genetic epidemiology of BRCA1 and BRCA2, intermediate...
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Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Currently investigating the utility of human cancer-derived organoids for high-throughout drug screening to identify novel cancer compounds of interest and biomarkers of response.
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University of Cambridge
Early phase clinical trials
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Her current research interests are in evaluating breast Tomosynthesis, non FDG radiotracers in cancer, and breast MRI. She is interested in using imaging to gain a better understanding of tumour physiology.
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Department of Pathology
MRC Cancer Unit, Hutchison/MRC Research Centre
One of the most powerful ways in which genes are altered in cancer is by rearrangements of large segments of DNA, i.e. chromosome translocations, duplications, deletions and inversions. We use molecular...
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Dr Hughes-Davies studied medicine at Oxford University, graduating first in his year as Radcliffe Senior Scholar. After three years of training in general medicine at the Hammersmith and Middlesex Hospitals in...
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Our primary research interest lies at the interface between basic developmental biology and cancer development. We are particularly interested in the transcriptional control of cell fate in the mammary...
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Tumour Models Core / BRU
Cambridge Institute
Mouse models of PDTX breast cancer, pancreatic and prostate cancer.
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We develop computational approaches for the systems genetics of cancer. To identify drivers of cancer we link genetic data to molecular and cellular phenotypes. Our work combines two complementary directions...
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I am interested in the architecture of genetic susceptibility to common cancers (primarily breast, ovarian and colorectal). I am also interested in understanding how germline genetic variation influences...
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Population-based studies by our group and others have shown that BRCA1 and 2 account for only about 20% of inherited susceptibility to breast cancer. Modelling based on patterns of familial clustering of...
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Stingl Group - Mammary Stem Cell Biology Laboratory
My research focuses on identifying stem and progenitor cells in both the human and mouse mammary glands. I am interested in these cells because cancer theory suggests that it is these cells that are the...
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Our research focusses on cancer genomics (primarily statistical analysis of microarray technologies to study expression, aCGH, methylation, microRNAs) with a particular emphasis on analysis of Illumina bead-...
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An oncologist specialising in breast, colon and urological cancers, including the treatment of patients with chemotherapy, biological therapies, radiotherapy and prostate brachytherapy. Has a strong ...
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University of Cambridge
Novel imaging techniques using ultrasound, e.g. elastography and attenuation imaging. Ultrasound-based localisation for surgical guidance and radiotherapy planning. 3D ultrasound.
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