Dr Matthew Smalley
Dr Matt Smalley, one of the leading figures in the study of stem cells and breast cancer, joined the European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute (ECSCRI) in January 2012 to continue his research into breast cancer. The focus of ECSCRI is on cancer stem cells, a small population of tumour cells believed to be responsible for the formation, growth and spread of cancers.
Dr Smalley was previously at the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at the Institute of Cancer Research, London where he made great advances in the understanding of the origins the different types of breast cancer, especially "triple negative tumours". These aggressive tumours are so-called because they do not depend on the action of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, or the HER2 protein, to drive their growth.
Understanding the origins of breast cancers, and the biological basis of the differences between them, could open up new avenues in both treatment and prevention. Furthermore, it will enable currently available treatments to be better targeted to those patients that will benefit the most while avoiding unnecessary treatment of tumours that will not respond. Dr Smalley is also studying the basis for the different behaviour of cells within an individual tumour in response to therapy, including whether cancer stem cells can be continually formed over the life of a tumour. Blocking cancer stem cell formation will greatly reduce the likelihood of relapse and regrowth following therapy.