New findings by Maltese breast cancer researchers at European Research Centres

The Group of Breast Cancer Researchers at the University of Malta has come up with new findings that suggest they will facilitate the therapy of breast cancer patients. 

They have been invited to present their results at the International Seminar Series of workshops across European research centres.

Organised by Affymetrix, a pioneer company in microarray technology and leader in genomics analysis, the workshops will be held in June 2015 at Erasmus Medical Centre (Rotterdam), Karolinksa Institute (Sweden), Uppsala Hospital (Sweden), German Cancer Research Centre (Berlin) and KrebsCentrum University (Dreseden).   

Head of Department of Physiology and Biochemistry at University of Malta Professor Christian Scerri said: “One of the major breakthroughs that has been achieved by the Maltese researchers is a novel test. It will define breast cancer patients into known and new types that facilitate the type of therapy.  The test is based on a technology from Affymetrix.”

“The test uses knowledge that originates from the research programme conducted in Malta, utilising patient material from Malta (University’s Department of Pathology and Department of Surgery and Mater Dei Hospital) and other resources from international collaborators including Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam and Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology,” explained Prof Scerri. 

The Breast Cancer Research Group at the Laboratory of Molecular Pathology, (Department of Pathology, University of Malta) is led by Dr Godfrey Grech and Prof. Christian Scerri, and includes a postdoctoral research scientist Dr Christian Saliba, four Ph.D. students and two M.Sc. students.

The researchers are the recipients of various funds from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Malta and are currently one of the partners in a Italia-Malta Programme Cohesion Policy 2007-2013 (Part of the European Regional Development Fund -ERDF programme) called ImaGenX (www.imagenx.eu). 

“Our project focuses on the study of breast cancer risk factors, molecular pathology and the classification of patients according to protein markers.  These markers provide information on the causes and type of diseases, the selection and use of specific therapy, and predict the outcome of the specific therapy. This should lead us to find novel ways to treat specific groups,” said Dr Godfrey Grech, who has published a highly accessed cancer position paper for the European Association for Predictive, Preventive and Personalised Medicine.

This research has also been instrumental in a number of undergraduate and postgraduate training programmes with two Ph.D. scholarships being donated through the efforts and raised funds of ALIVE Charity Foundation (http://alivecharity.com) and the Action for Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF) (http://www.actionforbreastcancer.com/).

“An innovative idea proposed by ALIVE Charity Foundation and ABCF to collect funds from the community and help the University of Malta to sustain its research mission in breast cancer has been a historical breakthrough for the University’s Research Trust (RIDT). Such advancements in the therapy of breast cancer in Malta testify how increasingly important research can be for our society now and in the future,” said Wilfred Kenely, RIDT CEO.

The research has been also achieved thanks to the collaboration of all patients and their families for generously accepting to take part in this research.

More in Health