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Issue 115 | October 2016 THE MAGAZINE FOR LABORATORY PROFESSIONALS NOW INCORPORATING Never miss an issue…receive the latest Lab News and BioScience straight to your inbox. Send your details to: Barb@wbn.co.nz Check out our facebook page: facebook.com/NZLaboratorynewsandNZBioScience In association with The NZ Microbiological Society Inc. VOL. 22 No. 1 JUNE 2012 ISSN 1172-7101 New research targets drug-resistant breast cancer Breast Cancer Cure is proud to announce the funding of two new research projects as part of The Breast Cancer Research in New Zealand 2016 initiative, a joint partnership between Breast Cancer Cure, the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) and The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. The first project led by Dr Francis Hunter from the University of Auckland , will see New Zealand researchers use cutting-edge genetic technology to help control resistance to the latest drug for treating HER2- positive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic breast cancer). Each year more than 3000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with breast cancer and 600 will die from the condition. One-quarter of these breast cancers are driven by increased amounts of a gene called HER2, which can be targeted with the drug trastuzumab, more commonly known as Herceptin. “Herceptin markedly improves outcomes for HER2-positive breast cancer. Unfortunately, treatment resistance develops in many patients, leading to a very aggressive disease with poor prognosis,” says Dr Hunter. In 2013 a new drug called trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) was approved for treating HER2-positive, metastatic1 breast cancer that has stopped responding to Herceptin. However, T-DM1 shrinks tumours in only half of patients and the reasons why the other patients are resistant to it remains unclear. “We’re going to use a powerful genetic tool to identify genes that control – and thus predict – the sensitivity and resistance to T-DM1 in HER2-positive breast cancer. Our aim is to reduce the distressing uncertainty associated with treating this illness and to enable patients and their caregivers to make informed treatment decisions,” says Dr Hunter. Phillipa Green, general manager for Breast Cancer Cure comments: “We are proud to be able to announce the funding of another vital research project, to help us move closer to achieving our goal of finding a cure for breast cancer. The work that Dr Hunter is doing is ground breaking, and will drastically change the lives and treatment journey of many people in New Zealand who suffer from Breast Cancer.” “This new project takes us to a total of nine projects funded via the breast cancer partnership with the Health Research Council of New Zealand since 2013.” HRC chief executive Professor Kath McPherson says recurrent HER2-positive breast cancer is a major challenge in New Zealand, particularly as this type of breast cancer grows rapidly and is associated with a high risk of metastasis and relapse, with devastating impacts for the women concerned and their family/whānau. “Developing a diagnostic tool that can predict how patients will likely respond to the drug T-DM1 – and advancing our understanding of why some people are resistant to it – would help improve the chances of survival for people with this aggressive type of breast cancer and allow more targeted and efficient use of expensive cancer medicines,” says Professor McPherson. Cancer researcher Dr Tracy Hale from Massey University has also received funding Continued on page 4 Airstream® Class II Type A2 Biological Safety Cabinets, Gen 3 (E-Series) An effective solution in providing operator, product and environmental protection within laboratories & industrial facilities. • Energy-saving and compact • Stable, self-compensating airflow • Low Noise and Ergonomic Design • TÜV NORD Certified to EN 12469 email@example.com | T: 0800 34 24 66 | www.bio-strategy.com LN_1016_FS_ESC_AirstreamPlusE_trsfr.indd 1 6/10/2016 12:32:59 p.m.