Breast Cancer Survivors Converge with Top Scientist at King's

King’s College London

Breast cancer survivors and people affected by cancer were invited to King's to find out how scientists are working to better understand cancer.

Sheeba Irshad with Breast Cancer Now supporters

Four influencers who have a combined following of 427.2k on Instagram met with Dr Sheeba Irshad, a Breast Cancer Now funded scientist, to hear about her lab's work.

Dr Irshad is the deputy head of the Breast Cancer Now funded research unit at King's, and a breast cancer medical oncologist at Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Trust. Her lab is focused on finding novel immune therapies for chemotherapy resistant breast cancers by studying the differences between those who respond to treatments compared to those that don't.

Laura Price, an attendee of the tour said: "As a patient with secondary (stage four) breast cancer, I want to know as much as possible about what's going on in my body and what researchers are doing to discover new treatments. I learned so much on the tour of the Breast Cancer Now lab at King's and it was fascinating to see how tumours are taken from patients and grown in the lab.

It's given me so much hope in terms of what's possible for the future, and I'd love to see more collaborations between scientists, patients and healthcare professionals to share our experiences."

Laura Price

The group were shown how scientists take breast cancer cells and grow them in petri dishes to see how it reacts to different drugs. Dr Irshad introduced the topic of immunotherapy to the group and how her lab is trying to better understand how tumour and immune cells interact with each other in patients with breast cancers. The team explained how learning how best to tweak this relationship could lead to life-saving treatments.

Dr Irshad's lab is also trying to better understand the reasons behind black women with breast cancers having a poorer long-term outcome. The lab uniquely brings together clinicians, cell biologists, immunologists and mathematicians to work together in a multi-disciplinary fashion to find better treatments for patients.

Composite BCN influencers in lab

Ahead of the lab tour she shared her excitement for the future surrounding research into Cancer Immunotherapy. In particular, she explained immunotherapy is a treatment that utilises the body's immune system to fight cancer. It has shown remarkable benefits in terms of long-lasting remission. However, this currently only happens in a small subset of patients so scientists need to learn and unpick the biology of why it works in some but not in others. This will help improve response rates for breast cancer immunotherapies in the future.

Dr Sheeba Irshad said: "I was delighted to show our cutting-edge lab facilities to women affected by breast cancer. Thanks to our partnership with Breast Cancer Now, we are working at pace to better understand breast cancer and develop new treatments that has the potential to save lives."

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