The research we are supporting for She-London

Head Researcher at Breast Cancer Now Centre, London - Dr Racheal Natrajan

Head Researcher at Breast Cancer Now Centre, London - Dr Racheal Natrajan

We are presently supporting for She-London 2019, Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, the charity here for everyone affected by breast cancer. From research to care, they are the UK’s most comprehensive breast cancer charity – providing support for today and hope for the future. 

United, they provide even more life-changing support that helps people cope with the physical and emotional impact of breast cancer. They campaign even more effectively for better services and care by being a more united voice for all those affected. And they carry out even more world-class research that will help discover better ways to prevent, diagnose, treat and stop breast cancer taking lives. 

But they can’t do it alone. We need you by our side, now more than ever. With your support, we can make even greater progress in tackling breast cancer so that research findings in the labs turn into new hope on the hospital wards and beyond.

Breast Cancer Now are delighted to be the beneficiary of She London and thank Art For Cure for choosing to support Dr Rachael Natrajan’s research through this wonderful exhibition. With her team, right now, she is working to understand the finer differences between breast cancer cells that don’t respond to standard treatments, so that those diagnosed with the disease can get new more targeted and more effective treatments in the future. 

We currently don’t understand why some breast cancers don’t respond well to treatments, but Dr Natrajan and her team are looking for new details that can help to uncover what makes breast cancer cells resilient. Her team are testing hundreds of 3D mini-tumours grown in the lab, in a large-scale set up that is like a factory production line, to find molecular weaknesses in cancer cells.

In these experiments, the researchers get breast cancer cells to grow in mini-tumours. It’s a crucial detail that they grow in 3D, as this is how tumours grow in the body. Such an approach is key to understanding breast cancer better – the 3D nature of a tumour influences its behaviour and response to treatment. For example, some tumours grow so fast that the cancer cells in the centre don’t have an adequate supply of the oxygen and nutrients they need. Instead of becoming weaker, the cancer cells can adapt and fight to survive these difficult conditions, becoming tougher to treat and more likely to spread around the body.

Dr Natrajan and her team use a special technique to turn off the activity of one gene per mini-tumour to understand how well cancer cells can survive without it. By growing thousands of mini-tumours in the lab at once, the researchers can test the importance of many different genes. The genes which Dr Natrajan and her team identify as being important for aggressive breast cancer growth can then be studied further. By using their mini-tumour experiment to decide which genes to study in more detail, the researchers have a much greater chance of making progress that could help patients sooner.

A better understanding of what makes some breast cancers different to others will help to improve the accuracy of diagnosis, and ultimately lead to the discovery of new ways to ensure every patient receives the best treatment possible. We believe more personalised treatment is the right way forward and could help people live a higher quality of life with, and beyond, breast cancer. Dr Natrajan’s research is helping us bring about this change in breast cancer treatment. 

Thank you to everyone involved in Art For Cure and in supporting She London. BCN can only continue to fund world-class research like Dr Rachael Natrajan’s with your help.



Finding cancer’s Achilles’ heel – Professor Chris Lord’s research- fundraising 2019

‘ We all came away energised and inspired from meeting you all and hearing about people’s motivation to fund our research, thank you for coming to the centre - it proved a great motivation ‘

PROFESSOR CHRIS LORD (BCN Research Centre, London)


Why do we need research?

Thanks to research, effective treatments already exist for breast cancer. But there are still many patients for whom these drugs don’t work or stop working over time. For this reason we urgently need the next generation of targeted drugs to ensure treatments work for everyone and no one has to see their breast cancer come back.

Exploiting cancer’s weaknesses

Professor Chris Lord and his team at the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre at the Institute of Cancer Research are trying to achieve just that. They want to identify genetic weaknesses in breast cancer cells and design treatments targeting and exploiting these weaknesses. Such treatments, specifically attacking cancer cells, could reduce side effects and be more effective.

The researchers are using genetics to create better breast cancer treatments, and investigate if processes that repair DNA inside cancer cells could be the target for new breast cancer drugs. Professor Lord and his team hope to develop new, better, and kinder breast cancer therapies.

Proven track record

Professor Lord has already had a major success in this area, contributing to the discovery that a faulty BRCA gene in cancer cells acts as a weakness which can be exploited with a drug called a PARP inhibitor. These drugs are now being trialled in patients, have recently been approved for use in breast cancer in the USA and we eagerly await these treatments being made available to patients in Europe and the UK.

Bringing benefit to people with breast cancer

Professor Lord’s team is driving the development of new targeted treatments for breast cancer, based on new weaknesses that they are revealing inside cancer cells. We believe that his research has the potential to not only improve the quality of life for women with breast cancer, but also ensure that their cancer is treated successfully first time, and never comes back.


How Art For Cure has enabled pioneering research by supporting Breast Cancer Now

Art For Curehas been supporting Breast Cancer Now’s pioneering research projects. They have already funded over £400,000 worth of research into breast cancer at the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre, within the Institute of Cancer Research, in London.

Breast Cancer Now currently funds 10 different research teams at the Centre, comprised of over 100 scientists, who are working together to identify the risk factors associated with breast cancer, develop effective new therapies and prevent secondary breast cancer from taking lives.

The work happening at the Centre if of a great importance, as long-term funding gives researchers the time and space to tackle the biggest outstanding questions in breast cancer. Breast Cancer Now believes this approach to research will help to stop breast cancer taking lives and achieve their ambition. 

Breast Cancer Now’s ambition is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live. Funding research into secondary breast cancer

Art For Curededicated funds from the 2014 and 2016 events to research into secondary breast cancer. When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it sadly becomes incurable, so we need research into secondary breast cancer to stop this from happening and save lives. 

One of these projects, undertaken by Professor Clare Isacke’s team, identified that breast cancer cells recruit other non-cancerous cells, called fibroblasts, to help tumours grow and survive. They also discovered that breast cancer cells co-opt these fibroblasts by secreting a specific protein. By finding ways to block this protein, we could reduce the spread of breast cancer, giving women better ways to fight the disease.  

Finding Cancer’s Achilles’ Heel - Funding research into targeted treatments

For 2018, Art For Curehas decided to part-fund a project led by Professor Chris Lord, to find cancer’s Achilles’ heel.

We now have a growing understanding of the differences between breast cancer cells at a molecular level, such as differences in their genes and proteins. However, available treatments do not yet take full advantage of this knowledge. As a consequence, women continue to receive treatments that may not be best tailored to their cancer type. It also means that resistance to the treatment is more likely to develop. Professor Lord and his team are determined to change that.

Professor Lord’s team is driving the development of new targeted treatment strategies for breast cancer, based on newly identified genetic weaknesses. New targeted treatments could not only improve the quality of life for women with breast cancer, but also ensure that breast cancer is treated successfully first time, and never comes back.

Breast Cancer Now would like to thank Art For Cure and all their supporters for enabling pioneering research into breast cancer and helping us get a step closer to achieving our 2050 goal.