Birmingham Fellow developing new treatment for breast cancer

Posted on Tuesday 25th September 2012
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Dr Clare Davies is undertaking a new approach to cancer research

A researcher at the University is pioneering a new approach to breast cancer research, seeking to combat the increasing resistance to treatments of the disease that claims around 11,000 lives annually.

Breast cancer makes up almost a quarter of all cancer cases worldwide with 48,000 new cases diagnosed in the UK each year. Researchers at the University are committed to developing new approaches in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease and alumnus and Birmingham Fellow, Dr Clare Davies (BMedSc Medical Science, 1998, PhD Cancer Biology, 2003) is returning to the University this month to take up post as a Murphy Birmingham Fellow. The Birmingham Fellowship scheme was launched in 2011 to appoint world-leading researchers to a permanent academic post at the University.

Dr Davies’ research is seeking to understand a group of enzymes, known as Protein Arginine Methyltranferases (PRMTs), which are elevated in breast cancer patients. The research will explore whether the increased amounts of PRMTs contribute to the development of breast cancer or occur as a consequence of the disease.

Dr Davies explains: ‘Methylation of proteins by PRMTs has been known for over 40 years, but very little is actually known about how they are regulated and contribute to disease. Heightened levels occur in breast cancer sufferers and I am anticipating that my research will show they are causative of breast cancer.

‘This knowledge will be fundamental to the field as it will enable us to more precisely target treatment of the disease. Even though the breast cancer screening strategy has greatly improved over the last ten years, drug resistance is becoming increasingly common and therefore we need to be constantly developing new avenues for the treatment of the disease to ensure survival.’

Dr Davies is excited to have returned to the University after eight years away, taking up her post at the beginning of October, which is also Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual international health campaign to increase awareness of the disease. Clare is joining a team who excel in breast cancer research and whose combined efforts have increased breast cancer survival rates by 30%.

If you would like to support our breast cancer research, or to find out more, please contact Sally Xerri-Brooks, Major Gift Manager via 0121 414 7407 or s.b.xerribrooks@bham.ac.uk. To find out more about the Birmingham Fellowship Scheme, please visit: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/excellence/fellows/about/index.aspx.

*Professor Paul Moss, Head of School of Cancer Studies, will be delivering a lecture giving an insight into the University's many contributions to Cancer research in the UK, Wednesday 31st October 2012. To find out more information please click here.