Promising step forward for triple negative breast cancer treatment

Triple Negative Breast CancerCancer researchers in the UK have linked an overactive gene to a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer called “triple negative” breast cancer.

The team, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge, identified the gene called BCL11A as especially active in triple negative breast cancer, raising hope for those affected by this cancer type.

Prognosis for triple negative cancers is generally poorer than for other forms as there is limited knowledge of the distinct genetic properties of the disease, making the development of new treatments difficult.

Generally, therapies used in treating other breast cancer types, like tamoxifen, do not work on this type of cancer because triple negative tumour cells lack three of the different ‘receptor’ molecules that are targeted by the treatments.

Most triple-negative breast cancer tumours are of a genetic type called ‘basal-like’. BCL11A was found to be overactive in tumour samples from around eight in 10 patients with the ‘basal-like’ disease.

Dr Pentao Liu, senior author on the study, said BCL11A activity stood out as being particularly active in samples from triple negative cancers.

Dr Walid Khaled, co-author on the study said, “Our studies in human cells clearly marked BCL11A as a novel driver for triple-negative breast cancers.”

This discovery builds on researchers’ work to develop a broader understanding of breast cancer which will inform clinical decisions, treatment choices and finding new therapies.

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Breast cancer researcher elected to the Australian Academy of Science

Professor Visvader elected to the Australian Academy of ScienceThe ACRF would like to congratulate breast cancer researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, Professor Jane Visvader for her recent election to the esteemed Australian Academy of Science.

The fellowship recognises Professor Visvader’s breakthrough research into defining the full genealogy of cells in the breast, and clarifying which of these cells gives rise to different types of breast cancer.

Professor Visvader, who jointly heads the institute’s ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer division with Professor Geoff Lindeman, said she was humbled to be one of 21 Australian scientists to join the Academy this year. “This recognition reflects a team effort between a wonderful group of scientists over many years,” she said.


Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women worldwide. It has a devastating impact on those diagnosed and the people around them.

What is breast cancer awareness month?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is held annually in October. It aims to raise awareness and generate support for breast cancer by raising much needed funds to improve it’s diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

This month also serves as a reminder to women to put their health first and get regular check ups for breast cancer.

How you can support breast cancer awareness month

There are a number of ways you can get involved and support breast cancer awareness month. Some ideas include;

  • Spreading awareness by adding a touch of pink to your wardrobe throughout the month to help start a conversation 
  • Using social media or engaging in conversations with your friends or family and using these platforms to talk about breast cancer, the impact of it and the importance of regular check ups 
  • Getting involved in a charity walk or run that raises money for breast cancer 
  • Making a donation to a cancer research charity such as ACRF, who are committed to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer

How ACRF is contributing to Breast Cancer research

“Research and more research is the key to defeating cancer,” says Chief Executive, Mr David Brettell.

“Since ACRF was established in 1984 we have given 16 multi-million dollar grants to research that is investigating preventative, diagnostic and/or treatment methods for breast cancer.” Continue reading “HOW TO SUPPORT BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH”