Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is harder to treat than other breast cancers and often more aggressive. The new drugs that have made such a difference for patients with other forms of breast cancer don’t work in TNBC, leaving chemotherapy as the mainstay of their treatment. Sadly, many patients develop resistance to chemo, allowing their cancers to spread and ultimately to kill them.
Dr Leung will work with two enzymes, TDP1 and TDP2, recently identified as probable culprits in the development of chemo-resistance in some tumours. Researchers believe new drugs that inhibit TDP1 and TDP2 could help the chemotherapy to continue working in TNBC patients.
Dr Leung’s project will test powerful new drug compounds in the lab, to see which ones work best against TDP1 and 2. If her two-year project reaches a successful conclusion, the project would move forward into the next stage of drug development.
"I feel very privileged in receiving the Fellowship, as Belinda Scott was my surgeon when I had breast cancer nine or 10 years ago – after that surgery I changed my research focus to study breast cancer, said Euphemia Leung. “Breast Cancer Foundation NZ gave me my first research grant back then, launching a very productive period in my research career – which is still going!”