Cancer Research Fund
The UC Cancer Research Fund supports the activities of Dr Sudha Rao and her team, who are tirelessly working to prevent cancer recurrence and improve treatment. Metastasis and recurrence of cancer are associated with over 90% of cancer deaths. In Dr Rao's words:
There is currently no therapy to fight recurrent, metastatic breast cancer, which is the major source of death in women with breast cancer. Furthermore, current first-line treatments have extensive side-effects. We are determined to fix that.
Cancer stem cells are resilient to current treatments, and remain dormant in the body even after successful chemotherapy. This can lead to cancer re-occurrence. These secondary cancers are often in other parts of the body and can be more aggressive.
The team have identified a drug that blocks stem cell proteins in breast cancer and reverts these cancerous stem cells to normal cancer cells. When the drug is combined with chemotherapy, a lower dose of chemotherapy drugs is needed.
This treatment is proving to be more effective, with fewer side effects, and prevents the re-occurrence of cancer. Trials continue. It is hoped that this treatment will be available to breast cancer patients in as little as 2 to 3 years.
Dr Rao's team believe the same approach can be applied to other aggressive cancers, including pancreatic and ovarian cancer. With further funding they can continue this important work.