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Investigating Fn14 as a driver of breast cancer metastasis

35 months
Approved budget:
Dr Heather Cunliffe
Health issue:
Cancer (oncology)
Proposal type:
Breast Cancer Research Project
Lay summary
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy worldwide and the leading cause of cancer death in women. Invasion and metastasis are the major reasons for breast cancer-associated mortality. We have identified the presence of a protein called Fn14 on the surface of 75% of invasive breast cancers, that is strongly prognostic for distant metastasis, with the strongest association in HER2/neu positive and Triple Negative breast cancers. Fn14 is not present in normal breast tissues, but once expressed, is sufficient to trigger cell invasion, and behaviour consistent with metastatic progression. Our project aims are 1) to define the utility of Fn14 as an independent prognostic indicator in an existing clinically-annotated breast cancer cohort; and 2) to functionally validate Fn14 as a driver of metastasis in preclinical models. Successful outcomes will define Fn14 as an important prognostic indicator for aggressive disease, and expose Fn14-driven biology as a novel therapeutic vulnerability