Women at risk of breast cancer may be able to avoid surgery in the future thanks to research carried out by an Annaghmore man.
Dr Kyle Matchett (31) is joint lead scientist on a recently-published paper into hereditary breast cancer, the findings of which could have major implications for women likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer.
Kyle, who is a former pupil of Portadown College, works at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast.
He explained, “My work has shown that women who are born with a mistake in a gene called BRCA1 are significantly more likely to develop breast and/or ovarian cancer.
“The research has shown that estrogen causes DNA damage, which if not repaired, can eventually cause cancer.
“In women with normal BRCA1, this isn’t a problem, as BRCA1 helps to fix the DNA, but in women carrying the faulty gene, this unrepaired DNA can lead to mutations and eventually malignancy.”
He added, “One of the main questions in this area is why do these women, despite having the BRCA1 fault in every cell in their bodies, specifically develop breast and ovarian cancers, and not lung, for example.
“My data suggests it’s the estrogen in the breast and ovaries that is driving the damage and hence, the cancer, but only in women who carry the BRCA1 gene fault.”
The work, which has been funded by Cancer Research, will lead to a clinical trial using a hormone inhibition drug on selected patients with the aim of reducing estrogen production in BRCA1 carriers.
Kyle’s paper, which he produced in association with an Australian colleague, Dr Kienan Savage, has recently been accepted for publication in the US-based journal Cancer Research, which is highly renowned in this field.
He has also presented his work in London, Canada and Amsterdam.
The first control trial should begin in the next year and will last for three months.