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Major new breast cancer studies to be funded by Pink Ribbon

Media statement – March 31, 2014

Major new breast cancer studies to be funded by Pink Ribbon Breakfast campaign

Further to today’s news release from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), announcing three significant new breast cancer research projects, the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation can confirm that its Pink Ribbon Breakfast campaign, running in May this year, will contribute to these studies, as well as making possible further major studies and clinical trials.

The NZBCF opened registrations for Pink Ribbon Breakfast last week, and hopes New Zealanders will host more than 2000 breakfasts around the country. The campaign is fronted by former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and was successfully treated for the disease. To register for Pink Ribbon Breakfast .

The three research projects announced today are the result a funding partnership between the HRC, the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Trust.

“The quality of applications received was outstanding,” said (Mrs) Van Henderson, chief executive at the NZBCF. “We originally planned to fund just two projects, but three of the proposals were so innovative and had such potential significance, we all agreed we couldn’t afford not to fund them.”

For more details, see the press release from the HRC: or read the summary below.

Summary of research projects:

Dr Anita Dunbier and her research team at the University of Otago have previously found that women with high levels of immune cells within their tumours have poorer outcomes. To find ways to improve the response of these tumours to therapy, they are now aiming to trial a short treatment of the common anti-inflammatory drug aspirin together with standard anti-oestrogen therapy for oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer. The goal will be to determine whether administering these two drugs together decreases the number of immune cells entering the tumour and the rate at which the tumour grows.

Dr Dong-Xu Liu from the University of Auckland and his research team have identified a novel protein called SHON. SHON protein expression in breast tumours predicts a favourable response to anti-oestrogen treatment. In this new research project they plan to generate a SHON-specific antibody and use it to analyse independent sets of breast cancer samples. The aim is to validate the use of SHON as a prognostic biomarker for predicting patient response to anti-oestrogen drugs.

Dr Jo Perry from the University of Auckland will lead a research project that seeks to discover and develop small molecule inhibitors of the growth hormone (GH) receptor and explore their use to treat breast cancer.

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