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Record funding helps scientists study breast cancer protein

24 Apr 2008

University of Manchester scientists have been awarded almost £200,000 by charity Breast Cancer Campaign in a bid to find new ways to beat the disease.

Dr Andrew Gilmore and Professor Charles Streuli, based in the Faculty of Life Sciences, have been awarded a three year research grant worth £193,000 to study a protein called Fak.

Fak is showing potential as an important protein in breast cancer and scientists believe that it plays a role in changing normal breast cells to breast cancer cells.

The role Fak plays in normal cells is to tell them that they should only grow and survive when they are in the correct place. Too much Fak can allow cells to grow in locations where normally they would not.

One of the features of cancer cells is that they can move to and grow in other places in the body, leading to secondary tumours. Changes in the amount of Fak can be seen early in breast cancer.

These changes in Fak may predispose cancer cells to spread, so it may be possible to target Fak to prevent early cancer cells from spreading.

Dr Gilmore said: “Treating breast cancer early helps stop the growth and spread of tumours. When we understand more about the role of Fak we may be able to form the basis of a new breast cancer treatment.”

The Manchester grant is one of a number of funding awards announced today, totalling a record £5 million – the most ever awarded by the Charity in a single year.

Pamela Goldberg, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “There are many different proteins which are important in the development of breast cancer, identifying them and finding out more about their role is an important aspect of breast cancer research.”


Notes for editors

Breast Cancer Campaign aims to beat breast cancer by funding innovative world-class research to understand how breast cancer develops, leading to improved diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure.

Currently it supports 107 research projects, worth more than £13 million, in 50 centres of excellence across the UK.

Breast Cancer Campaign currently funds 11 research projects in Manchester worth £1.6 million.

Breast Cancer Campaign recently announced that it aims to fund research in the Republic of Ireland.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and accounts for nearly one in three of all cancers in women.

In the UK, over 44,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women each year - that’s 120 a day.

Breast Cancer Campaign’s new publication: Evaluation of the current knowledge limitations in breast cancer research: A gap analysis - can be viewed at

For more information about Breast Cancer Campaign visit:

For further information contact:

Claire Learner

Media Centre

Breast Cancer Campaign

D: 020 7749 3705


Aeron Haworth

Media Officer

Faculty of Life Sciences

The University of Manchester

T: 0161 275 8383

M: 07717 881 563