Dr Patricia Carreira is a McGuckin Research Fellow in the Genome Plasticity and Disease Lab at Mater Research focused on finding out why two per cent of women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer do not survive the disease.

In Australia, impressive progress has been made as the overall five-year survival rate for breast cancer in females has increased to 91 per cent, however, Dr Carreira remains focused on the unknown. She has spent the past eight years of her life, dedicated to investigating how tumours work, her incredibly important work is looking to address this gap by using “jumping genes” as markers and therapeutic targets so that all future women diagnosed with breast cancer survive.

“Women diagnosed at early stages of breast cancer (stages I and II) have high survival rates. However, against the odds, tragically 2% of these women will not survive five years after diagnosis,” Dr Carreira said. “My research uses models to imitate aggressive tumour conditions using cancer models to investigate why mobile elements are activated in cancer and how this activation is influencing cancer progression. I have demonstrated while mobile elements are silenced in adult tissues, they are active in multiple cancer types. Yet the impact of their activation on cancer is unknown.”

Dr Carreira’s research aims to lay the foundations for the development of mobile element-based diagnostic tools and therapies for multiple cancer types. At Mater Research, she works with a team of doctors and researchers to discover new and novel ways to eradicate breast cancer. “Research done in breast cancer at Mater is not just performed in the labs our researchers and doctors collaborate together using real-time data and patient case studies to help find answers,” Dr Carreira said.

“The one thing that remains the same for us all is that without research into breast cancer, we would not be where we are today, we need to continue our research to find more answers. Everyone in our community has been affected by breast cancer. You might be a survivor, currently undergoing treatment, just received your diagnoses, or have someone in your life who has breast cancer.”

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