A Brandon University (BU) student researching early diagnosis of breast cancer is the recipient of a Research Manitoba Master's Studentship Award.
Braydon Nault, who is studying in BU's Master of Science (Environmental and Life Sciences) program, will receive $12,000 during the 2021-22 academic year to fund his work.
Nault is studying small molecules in the blood called micro RNAs (miRNAs) in the lab of Dr. Mousumi Majumder, the Canada Research Chair in Genotoxicology at BU. Two types of miRNAs have been seen in high levels in patients with aggressive breast cancers and have been linked to invasive cancer cells that metastasize and spread to other organs. These miRNAs secrete protein and metabolites called secretome into the tumour. Nault is studying the proteins to learn their functions in breast cancer and hopes that they can be used to determine what stage the disease is in, contributing to earlier diagnosis.
"I am extremely grateful to have Research Manitoba on our side, funding my project," Nault said. "I believe that we are contributing to an area of cancer research with the potential to have a widespread impact in improving diagnostic screening. With the assistance of Research Manitoba, I will be able to dedicate myself and to dive deeper into my project."
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian women and is responsible for about 5,000 deaths nationwide every year. If diagnosed in its early stages, though, 99 per cent of women will survive.
"Formal breast cancer screening currently begins at 50 years of age for women, and current detection methods are painful. We have made great improvements in modern therapeutics, though, and by diagnosing breast cancer at an earlier stage with a less invasive blood test we could save many lives," Dr. Majumder said. "I'm proud of the work done by dedicated students like Brady to learn more about breast cancer and discover ways we can help women live longer, healthier lives. Support from Research Manitoba is invaluable in allowing students to conduct this important work."