The ‘BRCA-D’ Breast Cancer Prevention Project – A Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Royal Melbourne Hospital Initiative

19 Oct 2016 by Krystal Barter

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The BRCA-D project is conducting research aimed at switching off early cancerous changes in breast cells from women with a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. This project hopes to identify an alternative, non-surgical approach for breast cancer prevention.

Currently many women with a gene mutation choose surgical removal of their breast tissue and ovaries to reduce their chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer. By pinpointing the cells that give rise to breast cancer, Institute researchers have discovered that the drug denosumab, may have potential to prevent breast cancer from developing. If confirmed in clinical studies this would provide a non-surgical option to prevent breast cancer in women with elevated genetic risk.

“Our study offers real hope for women who are at high genetic risk for developing breast cancer, and who have few other options apart from close monitoring or preventive mastectomy” – Professor Geoff Lindeman, Joint Division Head, Stem Cells and Cancer Division, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

For more information on the discovery please see the press release ‘Holy grail’ of breast cancer prevention in high-risk women may be in sight. Information on the BRCA-D study can be found here.

About the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is the oldest research institute in Australia and celebrated its centenary in 2015. Its affiliation with The Royal Melbourne Hospital links laboratory research to the clinic to accelerate the pathway from discovery to improved health outcomes. The Institute offers postgraduate training as the Department of Medical Biology of The University of Melbourne.

What is the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s Mission and Vision?
The mission of the Institute is mastery of disease through discovery. Their vision is to be to be an innovative medical research institute that engages and enriches society and improves health outcomes through discovery, translation and education.

What is the work of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute?
Scientists undertake research in a range of areas, preventing and treating diseases including breast, ovarian and blood cancers, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, coeliac disease and malaria.

Around 100 clinical trials based on discoveries made at the Institute are underway. These include trials of vaccines for type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease and malaria, and trials of a new class of anti-cancer agents for treating patients with leukaemia.

A Snapshot of the Institute

  • 1000 staff and students
  • 40+ diseases impacted by Institute research
  • 100 national and international trials based on Institute discoveries
  • In 2015 produced 410 publications with 86 of those publications featuring in top ranked international journals

For more information on the Walter and Elizabeth Hall Institute please see www.wehi.edu.au.

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