Breast cancer research gets boost in name of Dame Vera

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The forces’ sweetheart, who died in June last year aged 103, was a passionate supporter of many charities. Charity Breast Cancer Now is funding the fellowships in her honour for scientists who are working to develop new treatments and further understanding of the disease.

Dame Vera’s daughter Virginia Lewis-Jones said her mother would have been thrilled that world-class science is being helped in her honour.

She said: “A passionate advocate for the charity, mother spent decades supporting breast cancer research and today’s announcement is testament to her work over many years.

“Breast cancer is a terrible disease that affects so many of us and we must do more to stop so many dying.

“The more brilliant breast cancer researchers and projects that we can fund, the better. I look forward to seeing the results and hope they will help many people.”

Dr Crescens Tiu, a scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research in London, is one of the first two recipients of the Dame Vera Lynn Translational Research Fellowship.

Her work will search for treatments to overcome breast cancer’s ability to hide from the immune system.

She said: “The immune system is arguably the ultimate weapon against breast cancer. However, treatments that kickstart the immune system to target breast cancer cells have been disappointing in their ability to improve outcomes for many.” Dr Tiu will investigate combinations of treatments to help make hidden breast cancer cells more visible to the immune system, testing approaches for three years using mice and donated tissue samples from patients.

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The second recipient is Dr Kastytis Sidlauskas at Bart’s Cancer Institute, who will study whether artificial intelligence can be used to accurately identify how likely an early form of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ is to become invasive disease.

Around 55,000 women and 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK.

Dr Simon Vincent, director of research, support and influencing at Breast Cancer Now, said: “It’s vital that we discover new and effective treatments for those who desperately need them.”

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