University College London Research

The Shanta Foundation has donated funds towards advances in breast cancer research at The Royal Free in London a well-recognised centre of excellence, providing world-class research. Every year, in the UK there are 2.3 million new breast cancer diagnoses and 685,000 deaths. It is the most common cancer for women, and the second most common cause of cancer death.

If clinicians were able to identify an individual’s inherited risk of developing breast cancer, they could tailor screening programmes and care options to a person’s genetic make-up, reducing their risk of developing severe disease, and minimising the side-effects of any treatment. To date this revolutionary research has focused predominantly on data from patients of European heritage. Since this data informs treatment, innovations in care have been inevitably Eurocentric in focus, failing to consider the unique risk factors, and the way breast cancer presents itself, in women from different ethnic groups.

With our funding, The Royal Free have launched a multi-stage research project to increase the representation of women of ethnic minority ancestry in international research and provide cutting-edge care to the women treated in all our breast cancer clinics. It enables them to collect genomic samples and clinical information from women of non- European origin, including South-Asian women, to further understand how their environmental and reproductive risk-factors interact with their genetic make-up. The tissue samples that will be collected as part of this project are highly valuable and can be used in the future for multiple projects.

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