Investigation and treatment of radiotherapy-induced fibrosis in breast cancer
Dr. Eva Turley, Senior Oncology Scientist, London Regional Cancer Program
Breast cancer patients increasingly receive radiotherapy as a post-surgery (or adjuvant) treatment because of its highly effective tumor kill rate. However, this treatment can compromise satisfactory breast reconstruction after surgery, particularly implant-based reconstruction. Radiotherapy predisposes breast tissue to implant-induced contractures, which are painful and disfiguring. The most realistic current management option is surgical excision and implant removal, which is devastating for women who view breast reconstruction as closing the chapter of their cancer recovery. We are collaborating with plastic surgeons and peptide chemists to identify the unique genes that are expressed by cells causing implant-induced contractures and to design peptide mimetics that blunt the expression of these genes to reduce contractures in breast cancer patients. To date, we have identified a group of peptide mimetics that strongly blunt radiotherapy induced fibrosis, which leads to contractures, in experimental models. Translation of these results to the clinic is predicted to provide a class of peptide drugs that will significantly improve breast tissue reconstruction in cancer patients requiring radiotherapy. These peptides are also predicted to reduce tissue fibrosis side effects in other cancer patients.