21 Jun 2016

'Holy Grail' of Breast Cancer Prevention

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:14 pm on 21 June 2016
L-R) Professor Geoff Lindeman, Emma Nolan, Professor Jane Visvader.

L-R) Professor Geoff Lindeman, Emma Nolan, Professor Jane Visvader. Photo: the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

It's been described as the 'holy grail' of breast cancer prevention.

Australian and New Zealand researchers have discovered that an existing medication could have promise in preventing breast cancer in women carrying a faulty BRCA1 gene.

People who have that gene are at high risk of developing aggressive breast cancer. Currently many in that situation  choose surgical removal of their breast tissue and ovaries to reduce their chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, including New Zealander Emma Nolan, say the drug denosumab might have potential to prevent breast cancer from developing.

If confirmed in clinical studies, this would provide a non-surgical option to prevent breast cancer in women with elevated genetic risk.

Emma Nolan tells Jon Bridges about the breakthrough and its significance.