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New tactics to beat breast cancer

  • Researcher: Professor Marcos Malumbres
  • Institution: CNIO, Madrid, Spain
  • Award Amount: £198,500 for 3 years from January 2015
  • Cancer Type: Breast Cancer
New tactics to beat breast cancer
A successful cancer treatment first needs a target. Perhaps a cell protein or molecule which, if hit by a selective and strong enough drug, leads to death of cancer cells. It's how many of the big cancer treatments we have now started out, and a huge amount of early-stage cancer research involves identifying these special, very potent, targets, and then finding ways to get to them.
Professor Marcos Malumbres is finding new targets for breast cancer drugs. He is focusing on a recently identified protein, Mastl, which is already known to help control how cells divide. In terms of it being a good target for a breast cancer drug; the evidence is already looking good. Professor Malumbres and his team have already found it is present at high levels in some breast cancers, and when it is, patient outlook is worse. In addition, if the protein is removed in tumour cells in the lab, these cells no longer divide. Using a variety of tools, from studying mice to analysis of patient samples, Professor Malumbres is evaluating Mastl as a new cancer target. He will investigate which breast cancer patients could potentially benefit from blocking Mastl, and whether Mastl blockers could work with other drugs currently in clinical development. Professor Malumbres said: "For me, this project is really interesting, because Mastl belongs to a new class of targets that have not been tested for cancer treatment yet. Inhibiting Mastl may have therapeutic benefits in specific patients. In addition, we expect to find applications for future Mastl inhibitors in combination with other existing drugs, thus targeting different cancer-causing routes at the same time."
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