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About the Research

Le Cure has, so far, created five “Le Cure” Research Fellowships at the Royal Marsden.  Our research fellows are at the forefront of cancer research and are doing work which will make a real difference to the treatment and outcome for breast cancer patients.

We are doing Le Cure again for an 8th year in 2021 and need your help to raise funds for vital research to make personalised treatments for breast cancer – and a cure for many people with the disease – a reality.

Research supported so far:


  • Aimed to demonstrate that simple blood tests can replace invasive tumour biopsies
  • Breast cancer DNA in the blood can provide information on specific genetic mutations
  • Potential to revolutionise diagnosis and treatment of the disease
  • Results are very promising, meriting further work

Plasma ESR1 Mutations

  • Aimed to demonstrate that results from blood tests can help select therapy for patients
  • Detection of oestrogen receptor (ERS1) mutations in the blood indicated resistance to certain drugs
  • Hormone therapy treatments can be chosen accordingly

POETIC A Feasibility Study        

  • The full Poetic A trial will aim to develop a mechanism to detect cancers which will become resistant to hormone treatment
  • Use a “window of opportunity” prior to surgery to test tumours’ response to drugs
  • Based on those results start drug treatments as soon as possible
  • We expect this to reduce the number of patients in whom the disease will reappear after surgery and ultimately save those women from dying of breast cancer
  • During the feasibility study Dr Leal demonstrated that it is possible to deliver accurate molecular analysis of each patient’s cancer within a week of starting treatment

Can ctDNA help us identify who needs post-operative chemotherapy?

  • Establish whether DNA in blood following surgery can predict cancer recurrence
  • Sampling blood from 500 patients taken at the right treatment point in 2003
  • Testing will use the Illumina MiniSeq machine funded by Le Cure
  • Establish if no trace of DNA means that the patient could potentially avoid chemotherapy
  • Assess the effectiveness of a new drug called pembrolizumab, which stimulates the body’s immune response to cancer cells, in treating triple negative breast cancer
  • If successful this trial will change clinical practice globally

Developing a test to look for hundreds of cancer DNA mutations in a single blood sample

  • Aims to identify who benefits from chemotherapy; and,
  • Identify who is at risk of relapse despite receiving chemotherapy
  • Our Research Fellow, Matthew Beaney is developing a new, more sensitive blood test to be used by consultants in determining who does and who does not need chemotherapy

Improving Treatment for drug resistant breast cancer

  • Patients with breast cancer which feeds on oestrogen are often given aromatase inhibitor (AI) drugs to stop the production of oestrogen
  • AIs reduce the likelihood of a patient dying of breast cancer by around 40%
  • However, some women become resistant to AIs
  • Our Research Fellows, Arjun Mode and Vera Martin, are examining the characteristics of tumours which become resistant in the hope of providing new, targeted treatments for those patients

We are excited about all of our existing projects and – with your help – look forward to funding more research in the near future!

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact

Ka Wai Ko at the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity: [email protected]

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