Developing microenvironment-based prognostic biomarkers for early breast cancer

Published Alicia Mew on Thu, 06/20/2024 - 10:17

Breast Cancer Grand Round with Dr Christina Kozul

29 May 2024

Dr Christina Kozul shares recent findings on myoepithelial tumour suppression proteins as candidate biomarkers to predict the risk of early breast cancer spread in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) patients.

Approximately 25% of breast cancer patients are now diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Currently, predicting local recurrence in patients with DCIS is imprecise, leading to substantial variability in treatment. For progression to breast cancer, tumour cells must spread beyond the duct into the surrounding breast tissue. If this occurs, the risk of spread of the cancer cells increases dramatically.

Recent findings in the Parker laboratory, using unique 3D co-culture systems, showed that special cells that line the duct, called myoepithelial cells, are proteins that act as key suppressors of the earliest stages of breast cancer spread.

Using this model, this project has identified myoepithelial tumour suppression proteins as candidate biomarkers to predict the risk of early breast cancer spread. Current work makes use of a large DCIS cohort, with extended follow-up and infrequent radiotherapy, to identify standard histopathological and novel microenvironment-based biomarkers that predict DCIS patients most at risk of spread. This enables personalised therapy and reduces over-treatment.

The VCCC Alliance Breast Cancer Grand Round is targeted at a clinical audience and features open discussion about real cases and patients. While these cases are de-identified, the imagery, content and discussion can be graphic. It is not appropriate for consumer participants.



Professor Belinda Parker
Co-Head, Cancer Metastasis and Evolution Program; Group Leader, Cancer Metastasis and Personalised Immunotherapy Laboratory


Dr Christina Kozul
Accredited General Surgical Registrar, The Royal Melbourne Hospital;  PhD Candidate, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Health, and the University of Melbourne

Dr Christina Kozul is a Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Accredited General Surgical trainee (SET 4) at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, who aims to subspecialise in Breast Surgery. She is a current PhD student funded by NHMRC and NBCF at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, under the co-supervision of Professor Belinda Parker and Professor Bruce Mann. Her PhD aims to improve patient stratification for women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) by investigating standard histopathological features and novel microenvironment-based biomarkers. She is passionate about contributing to this field of research to improve outcomes for women with DCIS and breast cancer.

Course Details

Course type
60 mins
Curriculum Area
Monitoring and Surveillance

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