May 08, 2017 0 comments

PhD Finding to Potential Breast Cancer Treatment

Last year we introduced you to the incredible work of Dr Bill Panagopoulos, who was leading world-first research into an enzyme believed to play an essential role in the spread of breast cancer to the bone.

Finishing his PhD last year, we’re excited to share with you the results of his research as he moves one step closer to a new treatment for secondary breast cancer.

“Over 90 per cent of breast cancer deaths are due to metastases, so the cancer spreading to the other organs,” Dr Panagopoulos said.

“Through my PhD I discovered for the first time that a new group of enzymes, called peroxidases, contribute to the growth of a breast cancer tumour and also enhance the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.”

Dr Panagopoulos with Professor Andreas Edvokiou at his recent graduation.

Armed with this extremely exciting finding, Dr Panagopoulos has returned to the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI) as a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Breast Cancer Research Unit working with Professor Andreas Evdokiou.

“Continuing on from my PhD studies, now in collaboration with a pharmaceutical company, we’ve been able to find a way to inhibit this group of enzymes. We’re now assessing this inhibitor and its effectiveness in blocking peroxidase activity within the tumour and as a consequence, investigating if it reduces the spread of cancer and also breast tumour growth.

“If the inhibitor is effective, we’ll then be able to prove peroxidases involvement in the spread and growth of breast cancer, this means that this type of targeted therapy could be an effective strategy for the treatment of breast cancer in the future.”

“The next step would be using this targeted therapy in combination with current treatments to enhance its effectiveness in killing breast cancer!”

With high hopes for the next stage of his work, Dr Panagopoulos is confident a clinical trial of this therapy won’t be far off.

Also spreading his time supervising two PhD students studying peroxidases, along with a Masters student looking at fighting breast cancer with our immune system, Dr Panagopoulos has recently begun co-supervising an honours student at the South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute.

“I‘m collaborating with Professor Andrew Zannettino who is involved in myeloma research. He recognised a protein that can promote tumour growth in the bone and I’m supervising one of his Honours students who is working on understanding how this protein can promote breast cancer bone metastasis while also assessing new targeting inhibitors,” Dr Panagopoulos said.

Leading the way with his research, Dr Panagopoulos is hopeful in years to come women diagnosed with breast cancer will have more treatment options available to them.

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