Walk the Walk grants over £½ Million to fund research into how breast cancer spreads to the brain

Walk the Walk has been granting funds for research to charity Breast Cancer Now for 24 years.

Our latest grant – in excess of £½ million for the Walk the Walk Fellowship – has been awarded to fund cutting-edge research into breast cancer that has spread to the brain.

Up to 30% of people whose breast cancer has metastasised to other parts of the body, will develop tumours in the brain. Metastatic breast cancer that has spread to the brain can have a severe effect on a person’s quality of life, and due to their location, these tumours are particularly hard to treat, with few treatment options available. Almost all deaths from breast cancer are due to the disease metastasising to other areas of the body, and these secondary cancers currently can only be treated, not cured.

The severe impact on quality of life makes it vitally important that we find new ways to both prevent and treat breast cancer in the brain.

Walk the Walk Fellow and Breast Cancer Now scientist Dr Damir Varešlija is looking at how gene switches in breast cancer cells might make them more likely to spread to the brain and hopes to find ways to prevent this happening.

Dr Damir Varešlija, Lead Researcher at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, said:

“I am thrilled and honoured to be awarded the Walk the Walk Fellowship. My team and I will be doing our absolute best to advance our understanding of what genes trick the brain into being a willing host for escaped breast cancer cells. This is an area of unmet clinical need and we are delighted that dedicated research will be invested into potentially developing our findings into treatments for the benefit of patients with brain metastatic breast cancer.”


Hear what Dr Damir Varešlija has to say!

Dr Simon Vincent, Director of Research, Support and Influencing at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“Dr Varešlija’s research could offer invaluable insight about the mechanisms that cause breast cancer to spread to the brain, and potentially offer a way to stop this from happening. With around 11,500 women still dying from breast cancer each year in the UK, research like this is vital to us finding new ways to prevent breast cancer from spreading and to treat it effectively when it does. We are delighted to award this fellowship in collaboration with Walk the Walk, to help address a huge area of unmet need in breast cancer research that could help stop people dying from this disease. We look forward to some exciting developments as this research helps us to better understand how breast cancer spreads to the brain and what we can do to stop it. In the meantime, anyone who is concerned about their breast cancer spreading can speak to one of our expert nurses by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”

Nina Barough CBE, Founder and Chief Executive of Walk the Walk said:

“Walk the Walk has been granting funds for essential research by Breast Cancer Now for many years, so to be funding our own Fellowship, researching something we feel is vitally important for the advancement of cancer treatments and knowledge, is an absolutely wonderful place to be. It feels particularly special to be doing this, at a time when cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment has been chronically impacted by COVID. Amidst such a catastrophic situation, there is a little bud of hope, as Dr Varešlija is now working fully on this project.

The research Walk the Walk has funded previously has contributed to phenomenal leaps and bounds in terms of better understanding primary breast cancer, so that it can be treated more effectively if it is found early enough.  Unfortunately, that is not the same for cancers that have metastasised. For the last few years, it has been a passion of mine to fund research in this area – to try and find choices for those with secondary cancers and to prevent it being the death sentence that it currently is.

My sincere hope is that that within the next five years our Fellowship with Dr Damir Varešlija, will give us a much better understanding of why breast cancer spreads to the brain and even better, a way of preventing and treating this condition. We can make a difference and that’s what we’re here to do.”

Previous funds granted to Breast Cancer Now for vital research projects include...

  • The Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank. Walk the Walk is a founding partner of the UK’s first ever national breast cancer tissue bank.
  • The Nina Barough Pathology Laboratory, a core facility at the Breast Cancer Now Research Centre, the first research centre in the UK dedicated entirely to breast cancer research. Closely linked to the prestigious cancer research hospital, the Royal Marsden, the Centre’s researchers are bringing their findings from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside.  
  • The Generations Study, set up in 2004 to help understand the causes of breast cancer is following more than 113,000 women in the UK for 40 years.
  • The LEGACY Study. Allowing patients with secondary breast cancer to donate their secondary cancer tissues for research, shortly after their death.
  • Research into triple-negative breast cancer, led by Professor Andrew Tutt. This can be a highly aggressive form of the disease and has limited treatment options.

 Walk the Walk Founder and Chief Executive Nina Barough with Breast Cancer Now Chief Executive Baroness Delyth Morgan.

Thank you to all our Walkers, Volunteers and Supporters for making this possible! Keep Walking the Walk with us and continue to make a difference! Thank you for uniting with us against breast cancer.








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