Cancer Research Trust and Breast Cancer Cure – Joint Press Release

Cancer Research Trust NZ (CRTNZ) and Breast Cancer Cure (BCC) are proud to announce that they are working together to support and fund impactful, innovative breast cancer research in New Zealand in 2022.

CRTNZ is the country’s second-largest philanthropic funder of cancer research, dedicated to funding research on all types of cancer, across all stages of disease. BCC is a charity dedicated to funding high quality breast cancer research in Aotearoa New Zealand. Both organisations have a proud history of funding cancer research: BCC has funded over $11M of research dedicated to breast cancer in the last 25 years and CRTNZ has funded over $20M of research across all types of cancers in the last 20 years.

BCC and CRTNZ are excited to be exploring partnership opportunities and hope to offer a new, dedicated BCC funding category in 2023. This will be in addition to CRTNZ’s annual funding round focused on all types of cancer research.

However, with the impacts of covid on researchers and New Zealand’s growing incidence of breast cancer, the organisations have decided to offer an initial co-funding opportunity as part of CRTNZ’s current funding round (closing date 1 September 2022). This initiative will add BCC’s dedicated breast cancer research funding to CRTNZ’s current funding round to enable at least two breast cancer research projects to be funded in addition to the research projects across the cancer spectrum that will be funded by CRTNZ.

Long-term the planned partnership will create opportunities for New Zealand scientists and researchers focussed on breast cancer. It brings together BCC’s deep commitment to supporting the research sector and improving inequities and outcomes for those diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand, and CRTNZ’s commitment to funding a broad range of cancer-control research, training and education.

From 2013 - 2022, BCC partnered with the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC). As the HRC reviews its partnership programme, BCC looked for an organisation focussed on cancer research providing objective assessment and international peer review and found CRTNZ was executing just such a model with a keen awareness on impact.

The initiative will be managed through CRTNZ funding rounds administered by the General Manager Michelle Sullivan. Breast cancer researchers should apply under the Research Project Grant category and CRTNZ will work with BCC on co-funding opportunities after the peer review process. To help identify the best proposals, CRTNZ maintains an Assessing Committee of 10-12 cancer researchers with expertise in a range of disciplines, across the spectrum of cancer care.

Why is this important: Aotearoa New Zealand has one of the highest breast cancer rates in the world with 1 diagnosis every 3 hours, and this rate is increasing. Breast Cancer is the most common cancer among women in Aotearoa, affecting 1 in 9. Each year 3,549 New Zealanders are diagnosed with breast cancer. 89% of breast cancer patients survive 10 years, however, 20-30% of breast cancers recur or become advanced. 672 New Zealanders die from breast cancer each year (double the annual road toll). Research from 2003-2020 shows, after adjusting for age, wāhine Māori are 33% more likely and Pasifika women 52% more likely to die from breast cancer than New Zealand European women, while survival was higher in Asian women. We in New Zealand need to do what we can to help solve this problem, recognising its complexity and our responsibilities as Te Tiriti partners.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for the breast cancer funding?
Researchers interested in applying for funding should submit a Project Grant application through CRTNZ’s grants portal. Closing date for applications is 1 September through CRTNZ’s grants portal: 

Does this mean there is less funding available for other types of cancer research?
No, BCC is adding their funds to CRTNZ’s funds. This means CRTNZ will continue to fund as many research project grants as possible.

Are there special breast cancer funds in any of the other funding categories?
No. BCC’s funds are ring-fenced for the project grants category only. CRTNZ will continue to invest in other types of research funding and support training and education of researchers and cancer care professionals. CRTNZ has the following categories:

·         Post-Graduate Scholarship
·         John Gavin Post-Doctoral Fellowship
·         Murray Jackson Clinical Fellowship
·         Nursing Fellowship
·         Professional Development Awards
·         Professional Development Event Awards
·         Special Purpose Grants

How will the breast cancer proposals be reviewed?
Breast cancer proposals will be managed in the same way as all other cancer research proposals – including international peer review and evaluation by CRTNZ’s expert assessing committee.

Is CRTNZ still funding breast cancer research?
Yes, CRTNZ will retain its focus on funding all types of cancer research through the annual round, including breast cancer research.

What will happen next year?
BCC and CRTNZ intend to develop a formal partnership to continue to fund breast cancer research. The details of this are being worked through and will be announced in due course.

Why isn’t BCC offering funds through the HRC process this year?
HRC is currently reviewing its partnership programme. Therefore, BCC is very pleased to develop a partnership with CRTNZ.

Do you fund overheads?
No, as charitable funders of research, CRTNZ and BCC do not allow funds to be used for institutional overhead costs.

Contact details 
Breast Cancer Cure                                                                         Cancer Research Trust NZ
Sonja Demari                                                                                     Michelle Sullivan
Chief Executive Officer                                                                  General Manager
Email:                                   Email:
Phone: 021 446 693                                                                         Phone: 0274340926

Breast Cancer Cure Currently Funded Projects:

1. Breast reconstruction:
Natural fat tissue grafting is now popular for breast reconstruction as it has low surgical risk, but up to 70% of fat injected is lost. The team are studying extra cellular vesicles released from adipose stem cell injections to aid fat graft survival and retention in an effort to improve outcomes for those needing or seeking lower risk surgery. Kirsty Danielson University of Otago

2. Biomedical Prevention:
This study seeks to prevent breast cancer in genetically high-risk individuals through application of the antisense oligonucleotides therapy (previously used successfully for degenerative disorders). This therapy modifies the risk of the BRACA2 breast cancer variant through gene splicing laying the foundation for the development of risk-reducing therapies which will provide new options and will be of particular interest to younger women. Vanessa Lau et al University of Otago

3. Digital Pathology:
This study is moving pathology from microscopes to digitally scanned slides on computers to automatically identify and efficiently report on molecular and genomic changes by using algorithms to quantify and standardise results. This will make equity of access more achievable and improve prediction of response to treatment. Gavin Harris Universities of Auckland and Canterbury

4. Drug resistance:
This project delivers the first APOBEC3 (A&B) selective inhibitor into live cells, reducing the ability for cancer cells to block/adapt to chemo and immunotherapies, allowing treatments to progress without restriction and thereby reducing the possibility of metastasis and cancer re-occurrences. Filichev et al, Massey University. Patents achieved.

5. Biomarker for Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC): 
(There are three main subtypes TNBC, HR+ and HER2+)
This study focus's on a protein biomarker HIF-1 in TNBC using glutaminase Inhibitors. The study is currently in phase two clinical evaluation. Dean Singleton, University of Auckland

6. Biomarker for Triple Negative Breast Cancer to understand who is at greater risk of advanced breast cancer:
The study is looking at how the Fn14 molecule works, how it expresses itself and what drives tumour behaviours and what leads to it being more aggressive in certain circumstances and whether it may be responsible for breast cancer metastasis in triple negative breast cancer.

They are looking to improve prognosis and are working towards identifying who is at greater risk. Dr Heather Cunliffe, University of Otago

7. Prediction of the re-occurance of breast cancer:
This blood marker study has identified two molecules, found in the blood of patients at the time of surgery for breast cancer, that were very good at predicting which women would have a relapse before five years. This study is validating these findings in a larger group of breast cancer patients. Annette LashamUniversity of Auckland

8. Drug resistance for HER2+ Breast Cancer (T-DM1;Kadcyla)
Following an earlier study which significantly found a gene TSCI knockout may promote T-DM1 resistance. This study is validating these findings to understand which patients may need different therapies to prevent their cancer from progressing. Dr. Barbara Lipert, University of Auckland

9. High Risk full length variant classification in breast cancer:
This study of high risk genes seeks to understand, classify and more reliably identify breast cancer mutations. Members of team are part of an international panel and will develop rules for doctors which will be integrated into international guidelines. The study ensure that clinicians, individuals and their families will be able to take action to reduce the likelihood of the developing disease. Dr Logan Walker, University of Otago.

CurtainStudio Partnership

We are excited to partner with CurtainStudio and all their stores throughout New Zealand to help raise vital funds for breast cancer research.

The CurtainStudio team are delighted to have Breast Cancer Cure as our new charity partner. Breast cancer has an impact on so many people’s lives including our employees, customers and suppliers and for this reason, our team are extremely passionate about the cause. We are looking forward to getting in behind the fundraising initiatives so we can help Breast Cancer Cure with their mission to FIND A CURE for Breast Cancer.

Bryn Harrison, CEO, CurtainStudio

During the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness month CurtainStudio will be donating $1 from every pack of Studio Readymade Curtains and Blinds to Breast Cancer Cure.

Lockdown Challenge for a CURE

Are you looking to tackle a new challenge or set yourself a lockdown goal?

Take up the Lockdown Challenge for a CURE and help raise funds for vital breast cancer research. You choose your challenge make it as hard or as easy as you like. Simply set up your fundraising page and share it with your friends and family.

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Reducing Breast Cancer Risk and Improving Treatment Options the Focus of Newly Funded Research

The Health Research Council of New Zealand, Breast Cancer Cure and Breast Cancer Foundation NZ have funded three new research projects focused on breast cancer in New Zealand.

The funding aims to improve quality of life and survival in breast cancer in New Zealand. The overall research objectives and priorities for this year’s investment include a focus on achieving health equity and improving health outcomes for communities disproportionately affected by breast cancer.

More than $728,000 was awarded to three innovative projects. See below for this year’s successful recipients.

Read more