Naomi Campbell opens Breakthrough Breast Cancer research unit, UK

Supermodel Naomi Campbell opened Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s new London research unit dedicated to finding treatments for an aggressive type of breast cancer.

The research unit will investigate triple negative breast cancer, which is more common among younger women and those of African origin.

Despite there being up to 6,000 new cases in the UK each year, very little is known about triple negative breast cancer. The research unit, the first of its kind in the UK, has been set up by Breakthrough Breast Cancer and King’s College London and is based at Guy’s Hospital.

Style icon Naomi was joined at Guy’s Hospital by her mother, Valerie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Her treatment was successful and she is now in remission. Naomi spoke passionately at the opening about her personal commitment to breast cancer research.

Naomi Campbell said: “Having a mother who is a breast cancer survivor means I know how important it is to find new treatments for this disease. I am thrilled that Breakthrough Breast Cancer is opening a new research unit to investigate a type of cancer that is more common among black women.”

Scientists will be trying to find out more about triple negative breast cancer, in particular which genetic changes in the tumour cause or drive its growth. They want to learn more about the biology of the disease, including if there is a ?cancer stem cell’ that causes it. With this knowledge, scientists will be trying to find new ways to diagnose, treat and ultimately prevent this form of breast cancer.

Dr Andrew Tutt, Director of the research unit, said: “There are several different types of breast cancer and triple negative breast cancer is more difficult to treat than other forms of the disease. This is because tumours do not respond to targeted treatments like tamoxifen or Herceptin and are more likely to return after treatment.”

Sam Hills, from Peckham, south east London, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at the age of 34. Sam was heavily pregnant at the time and could not be treated until after the birth of her son.

Sam, who is now 37 and in remission, said: “It was a real shock to be diagnosed with breast cancer because I thought it only happened to older women. It is so important to women like me that more treatments are made available to help fight breast cancer.”

Actor Joseph Fiennes, whose mother, Jennifer Lash, died of breast cancer in 1993, added his support to the opening of Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s research unit.

Joseph Fiennes said: “The incidence of breast cancer in this country means that nearly all of us know someone who has been affected. I am delighted that Breakthrough is opening this new research unit which will investigate effective treatments for different types of breast cancer. I hope this research will give us a greater chance of creating a future free from the fear of this disease.”

The research team will be using cutting-edge technology to enable them to work more quickly and in more detail than ever before. The unit is equipped with an ?80,000 Hamamatsu Nanozoomer, the latest digital microscope, which shows images of the body’s tissue at an unprecedented level of detail. It also enables scientists from around the world to digitally share and analyse microscopic images at the same time.

The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit at King’s College London is based at Guy’s Hospital, part of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. It is adjacent to King’s College London Academic Breast Unit. Its location allows scientists and clinicians to work closely in collaboration.

Source: Breakthrough Breast Cancer, UK

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