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NZBCF research to spend $800,000 over the next two years

News release, October 10, 2013

New projects take NZBCF research spend to $800,000 over the next two years

A radiation oncology research fellowship at Auckland DHB and a Canterbury University study of the link between breast cancer and a common virus bring the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation’s research funding commitment to $800,000 over the next two years. Some of the funds raised in the Foundation’s Pink Ribbon Street Appeal, held in this Friday October 11 and Saturday October 12, will be allocated to these new projects.

The Foundation will co-fund a study led by Professor Ann Richardson at Canterbury University into a viral cause of breast cancer. Previous research suggests that cytomegalovirus (CMV) plays a role in breast cancer; this new project will investigate the link further by studying differences in exposure to the virus between women who have breast cancer and those who do not. If the research supports a link between cytomegalovirus and breast cancer it could lead to development of a vaccine and the prevention of a significant proportion of breast cancer worldwide.

“Our team is very grateful for this funding, which allows to take the next step in this investigation, building on our previous research,” said Professor Richardson.

The NZBCF is co-funding the $333,000 project with the Health Research Council of New Zealand, a first step into partnership for the two organisations.

“New Zealand has such limited research funding, it makes huge sense to team up whenever we can,” said Van Henderson, chief executive at the NZBCF. “The HRC plays a major role in determining the direction of health research in New Zealand, while the NZBCF directs its funds specifically towards helping prevent our women dying of breast cancer. This partnership channels our funds to a project we couldn’t afford to fund on our own, but one which we believe might have significant impact on breast cancer prevention.”

The NZBCF has also committed funds to establish a research fellowship at Auckland DHB. The appointed fellow will assess the effectiveness of past and current radiation oncology treatments using data from the breast cancer patient registers.

Other research funds committed over the next two years include:

- $100,000 to Dr Euphemia Leung at Auckland University. Dr Leung is investigating how everolimus, an existing drug, might work in combination with other new tumour inhibitors to block the abnormal signalling pathways that cause cells to turn cancerous. Her work is focused on triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), a particularly aggressive cancer that often affects younger women.

- $100,000 to Dr Rhonda Rosengren at Otago University. She and her team are also targeting triple negative cancers – they hope to develop a low-cost nano-medicine that specifically targets triple negative tumour tissue. If this initial project is successful, the NZBCF will commit up to another $100,000 for the next phase. This research could lead to clinical trials in women in two to three years’ time.

- The Breast Cancer Patient Registers – the NZBCF funds the operation of registers that track more than 90% of the women diagnosed with breast cancer in the Auckland, Waikato, Wellington and Christchurch regions. The data gives researchers and clinicians a greater understanding of the nature of breast cancer and its diagnosis, treatment and outcomes in New Zealand.


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