NUIG research identifies new approach for combating breast cancer

Galway Daily news NUIG research identifies new approach for combating breast cancer
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Researchers at NUI Galway have identified a potential new path for the treatment of breast cancer in recently published research.

Their study focuses on stromal cells, a newly discovered type of cell which form an important part of solid tumours.

They work by preventing the patient’s immune system from recognising and killing cancer cells.

It has also been discovered that they limit the effectiveness of many current cancer drugs including immunotherapies.

The research carried out by Dr Laura Barkley and Dr Paul Loftus at NUIG’s Orbsen Therapeutics has novel peptide therapeutics to bind and target one such stromal cell called Syndecan-2 specifically

Dr Barkley said of their findings “The peptides caused immune cells to infiltrate the breast cancer, leading to a reduction in growth and notably, reduced the metastasis of the breast cancer to other organs.

Their studies suggest that using targeting tumour stromal cells could represent a new modality in the treatment of cancer.

“We are very excited about the potential benefits of using tumour stromal cells-targeting drugs to improve patient outcomes in combination with current breast cancer therapies and immunotherapies.”

Professor Michael Kerin, co-author in the study, said that it will “open avenues for treatment for patients with particular breast cancer subtypes especially triple negative and targeting the appropriate cohort will require further research”.

Dr Stephen Elliman, Chief Scientific Officer at Orbsen Therapeutics, said “This Irish Research Council enabled research between Dr Barkley and Dr Loftus was a model of industry-academic collaboration.

“We’re delighted with the outcome and look forward to continuing this productive collaboration and advancing these peptides towards early safety Phase clinical one trials.”

This work was published in the International Journal of Cancer and can be accessed at