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24 March 2009
New treatments for breast cancer that utilise the body’s natural disease defence systems are being developed by researchers at Cardiff University.
Dr Matthias Eberl of the School of Medicine working with Dr Richard Clarkson of the School of Biosciences have been awarded a pilot grant worth almost £20,000 by Breast Cancer Campaign to gather information to help design new immunotherapy treatments specifically for breast cancer.
The treatment aims to harness the power of the body’s own immune system and destroy cancer cells leaving healthy cells alone, therefore reducing side effects.
Researchers have already developed a way to stimulate the immune system to produce molecules that can destroy cancer cells. Whilst this is effective in other types of cancer, breast cancer cells have developed a way to protect themselves, often avoiding destruction.
Dr Eberl, a member of the Infection, Immunity and Inflammation Interdisciplinary Research Group (i3-IRG) at the School of Medicine, will investigate whether another molecule can break down this protection and make the cancer cells vulnerable to destruction.
Dr Eberl said: "I am grateful to Breast Cancer Campaign for investing in this research and I hope to develop some preliminary ideas that will help us understand more about immunotherapy and how it can destroy cancer cells."
Arlene Wilkie, Director of Research and Policy, Breast Cancer Campaign, said: "Despite the unsteady economy, funding breast cancer research must remain a priority as more than 46,000 people are diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year and more than 12,500 will die.
"Research is already making a huge difference and we hope that by funding high quality, innovative projects such as Dr Eberl’s, it will bring us ever closer to beating breast cancer."
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