Exciting research from a Brandon University (BU) scientist is gaining considerable support for its potential to change the way breast cancer is detected.
Dr. Mousumi Majumder is leading a project that has been awarded a $75,000 research grant by the Breast Cancer Society of Canada (BCSC). This is the very first BCSC grant competition and, nationally, Dr. Majumder is the only recipient in the Precision Genomics Research category. The grant will support her work over a three-year period.
Dr. Majumder is BU’s Canada Research Chair in Genotoxicology, and she is collaborating with colleagues at Brandon University as well as leading experts in the field of breast cancer research to examine tissue to identify blood biomarkers identifiers that could lead to early diagnosis of the disease.
Breast cancer is highly prevalent in Canada, with one in eight women being diagnosed during their lives. Statistics show that incidences of diagnoses in women younger than 50 are increasing, but women in Canada typically do not qualify for breast cancer screening until the age of 50.
“Almost all of us have had our lives touched by breast cancer in one way or another,” Dr. Majumder said.
“The good news is that research has shown that with early diagnosis, current treatments can save up to 98 per cent of patients.”
Previously, Dr. Majumder’s research has shown that certain microRNAs are found in high levels in breast cancer cells. Her team continues to investigate those microRNAs’ roles in breast cancer and to identify novel biomarkers that can detect the presence of breast cancer in the blood. A simple and relatively painless blood test could help identify women who are at risk at an early stage and in a much less invasive fashion than current testing methods.
Majumder is working with representatives of the London Health Sciences Centre, CancerCare Manitoba and the Canadian Breast Cancer Network. The London Health Sciences Centre and CancerCare Manitoba are providing blood plasma and biopsy samples for Dr. Majumder and her team to examine biomarkers, as well as assisting with their expertise. The team also includes Dr. Vincent Chen of BU’s Department of Chemistry, and Sujit Maiti of the Department of Biology, who are helping to generate and analyze data.
“This is truly a team effort that would not be possible without the efforts of university and community partners and hard work of passionate trainees in my lab,” Dr. Majumder said. “I’m grateful for the contributions of the members of our team and for the support of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada as we work to help women with breast cancer get the early treatment that they need to live longer and healthier lives.”