Sheffield scientist handed £200k for cancer project

Dr Alison Gartland
Dr Alison Gartland
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A scientist in Sheffield has been given almost £200,000 for research which could help medics stop breast cancers from spreading.

Dr Alison Gartland, a senior lecturer at Sheffield University’s Medical School, has been awarded the money by charity Breast Cancer Campaign, to investigate why a protein called lysyl oxidase increases the risk of cancerous cells spreading to other parts of the body, in particular to the bones.

The doctor said the protein – known as LOX – is over-produced in breast cancer cells which spread elsewhere in the body.

Dr Gartland said: “Patients with high levels of LOX have an increased risk of developing secondary tumours.

“What we don’t know is whether it acts like a fertiliser in the bone, which helps breast cancer cells that have spread grow into tumours.”

The funding runs for three years, and the doctor hopes it will lead to new treatments to stop secondary breast tumours growing in bones.

She said: “I believe LOX is a really important protein in breast cancer and with this funding our aim is to find out why it is so important and what effect it has on helping tumours grow – especially in the bone.”

Katherine Woods, research information manager at Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “About 12,000 women and 80 men in the UK lose their lives to breast cancer every year.

“When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it causes more serious health problems, so this research is vital if we are to stop this from happening and help people with breast cancer to live longer.”

Breast cancer is the most common form of the disease in the UK and accounts for nearly one in three of all cancers in women.

In the UK, about 50,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year, or 137 every day.

n Log on to Breat Cancer Campaign for more information about the good cause.