The Breast Pathology Research group at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research (UQCCR) located next to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in Herston, held a community representative meeting on Wednesday the 16th of October. The aim of the meeting was to inform community members of the research conducted by the group to obtain feedback and to ensure that the group’s research is in line with community concerns about breast cancer.
The Breast Pathology Research Group is headed by Prof. Sunil Lakhani who is also the Head of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, The University of Queensland School of Medicine and the State Director of Anatomical Pathology, Pathology Queensland. Prof. Sunil Lakhani’s research team is part of a global push to better define distinct types of breast cancers. The overall objective of the group is to combine cutting edge molecular technologies with traditional pathological assessment, to deepen our understanding of breast cancer development. This is pursued not only to develop better understanding of how the cancer is likely to behave and therefore improve patient management in the clinic, but also to uncover mechanisms of how the tumour grows and spreads, with the hope of developing new therapies to treat the disease.
The research team is comprised of both scientists and practicing clinicians. This combination of expertise ensures research discoveries are translated into actual clinical practise. An ongoing project that is currently being developed by the team in connection with the RBWH breast unit is a prospective study of breast cancer patients. The purpose of the study is to follow-up breast cancer patients over five years to identify patients that will develop metastatic cancer (tumour spreading to other organs). Analysis of the blood and tissue samples collected from consenting patients over this time together with associated medical information will aid in:
- understanding how cancer spreads to other organs
- assessing the role of biomarkers for predicting breast cancer metastasis
- understanding the mechanisms underlying resistance to current treatments
The research program is underpinned by the group’s tissue bank, The Brisbane Breast Bank. The Brisbane Breast Bank was established in 2005 to collect donated patient samples to facilitate breast cancer research. This invaluable resource holds a large collection of clinical samples from breast cancer patients, linked to relevant medical information. To date the tissue bank has consented over 1900 patients. The samples from the tissue bank have been used by both national and international researchers to advance knowledge about breast cancer.
The tissue bank is currently managed primarily on the goodwill of many people and organisations and the majority of the tissue bank funding is ending in 2016. Accessing funding for the tissue bank is challenging and the Brisbane Breast Bank requires continued funding to maintain a stable research infrastructure for the benefit of current and future breast cancer patients. This year we were fortunate enough to receive a kind donation of $5000 from the Redcliffe Zonta Club to further studies into metastasis arising from primary breast cancer. Please refer to /brisbane-breast-bank for more information.