Research Projects

Breast cancer research – Dr Sahar Abdul-Rasool

Breast cancer research – Dr Sahar Abdul-Rasool

Dr Sahar Abdul-Rasool

  • Dr Sahar Abdul-Rasool

    Department of Medical Biosciences, University of the Western Cape.

  • Email:
  • Tel: 021-9592070

Title of Project:

Detection of Tumour DNA alterations in the Primary Tumours of Breast Cancer Patients: Clinical and Prognostic Correlation

Highlights of the Project:

Breast cancer (BC) is the most common malignancy in women. The main causes of death are metastases and treatment failure. Thousands of lives might be saved if it was possible to detect and eliminate occult metastatic cells before they become clinically evident. Primary tumours obtained from breast cancer patients have been investigated for the presence of genetic aberrations, since there is increasing evidence regarding the prognostic significance of such findings. We aim at the analysis of  specimens obtained from South African breast cancer patients for the presence of such genetic aberrations. This might prove to be a potential sensitive and specific alternative for the markers commonly used for the purpose of breast cancer detection..

Scientific Progress Report

  1. The ethics clearance was extended to enable us to gain access to patients’ clinical data during 2012.
  2. The clinical samples’ numbers were linked to hospital files and the clinical data were provided by the pathologist.
  3. The normal control tissue obtained from areas surrounding the tumours was analysed but found to produce low yield of DNA so the pathologist was contacted to provide us with slides of normal control tissue and thicker section were cut in an attempt to increase the yield. We hope that we can finish the analysis and the clinical data interpretation by the end of this year and submit the relavant master thesis.
  4. A further analysis for the triple negative phenotype (ER-, PR-, HER2-) was carried on the same DNA using comparative genomic hybridization method. The finding are of great clinical significance and  a manuscript is under preparation. We hope to publish this part soon.
  5. An abstract was submitted for presentation at the “Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference which will be held in Virginia (USA) in June 2012. A copy of the abstract is attached.
  6. We are also planning to present the first part of the work at the 40th Annual Conference of the Anatomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA 2012) which will be held in Windhoek for the period of 14 -18 April 2012.

Non-Scientific Progress Report:

Our research findings have given us reasons to believe that women of the Cape have a triple negative phenotype form of breast cancer. In those women, the disease assume a very aggressive course and the survival rate is low. After completion of the comparison of laboratory finding and clinical data, we will be able to publish this original work which we expect to have a high clinical impact.

Please summarise how you believe this project is of value in the struggle against cancer:

Breast cancer is a very common solid malignancy. Death after the initial diagnosis and treatment is mainly due to secondary metastases. That is why it is of most importance to early detect the disease in order to be able to cure it. It is a known fact that target therapies are most effective when the tumour burden is small and the patients’ immune system not yet weakened by the cancer. I also would like to say that I believe that my research will add to the knowledge required to control this malignancy.


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