The team behind the BRCA PROTECT Research Clinic based at University College London (UCL): clinicians, research nurses, scientists and ‘BRCA Champions’ are looking to better understand the processes that may increase or alter the risk of developing cancer in women with the BRCA mutation.
BRCA Unite is a ground-breaking research programme. Our mission is to be at the forefront of understanding the molecular events that lead to the development of breast and ovarian cancer, with the aim to allow us to effectively predict and ultimately prevent the occurrence of these cancers
Currently, apart from supportive and conservative management options, the mainstay for treatment involves women undergoing risk-reducing surgery, preventative or ‘prophylactic’ mastectomy (removal of both breasts) or preventative or ‘prophylactic’ salpingo-oopherectomy (removal of both ovaries and Fallopian Tubes).
By helping shape and advance knowledge for women with the BRCA alteration, we together can help develop new preventative measures that will enable women to reduce their risk of developing cancer, without the need for surgery, and ultimately offer women of all ages a more holistic approach to their health and a range of options that they can consider.
We hope that together we will be able to change the future landscape for those with the BRCA alterations.
Am I eligible?
We are currently looking for volunteers who have previously tested for the BRCA mutation and are EITHER positive or negative for BRCA1 or BRCA2.
Other criteria include;
- Women aged 18-45 years
- No previous preventative or ‘prophylactic’ removal of both fallopian tubes and ovaries (participants with removal of only one tube and ovary can still apply)
- Not pregnant or currently breast-feeding
- Those not taking any hormonal contraception (i.e the pill, coil, implant) for the past 2 months
The reason behind this is so that we can assess more accurately the hormonal and biological processes that occur in women of a reproductive age.
Testing for ‘controls’
Whilst ideally we have our ‘controls’ (BRCA 1 and 2 mutation negative) participants as sisters or cousins, we are also opening up to friends and general members of the public. As such, we will offer genetic testing to those who do not know their status.
They will then have the option to choose whether or not they would like to be informed of their genetic status during the consenting process (i.e if they are positive for the mutation as an incidental finding and wish to be disclosed this information, we will then offer support and referral to appropriate channels as part of their diagnosis).
What does the study involves?
As part of the study, you will be invited to attend group session where we can explain what the study involves in person. For those unable to attend we will have a dedicated website with information, visual and video support.
We are looking at the changes that occur over one ‘normal’ menstrual cycle for a woman (approximately 28-30 days).
We will invite you to attend our clinic on Tottenham Court Road in Central London over 3 points during your cycle (beginning, middle and end) where you’ll meet our friendly research team.
The middle visit or visit 2 will be during the ovulation period and we will supply you with an easy home ovulation testing kit.
At home we will require daily bio-samples to be taken by you (saliva and urine) and 2 faecal samples, all of which can be stored discreetly and hygienically. We will then collect these via a courier at a suitable time for you. When you attend clinic we will request a cervical smear only on visit 1 and blood and urine samples for all 3 visits.
From these samples we will be analysing the immune system in great detail, hormonal changes and your gut microbiome, a reflection of your gut health and possible insight into cancer development. All of these samples will be analysed by cutting-edge technology and molecular techniques by renowned teams based at UCL, Royal Free and Imperial College London.
Recruitment is currently suspended due to COVID-19 and will recommence once it is safe to do so based on information from Public Health England.