Anoikis is the process whereby the body ambushes and kills roving cells that have gone "AWOL" and are moving around the body without permission ?like breast-cancer cells that spread from the breast to form tumours in other parts of the body.
Current breast-cancer treatments have been designed to kick start the anoikis process and kill these rogue cells. But the cancer cells are clever and learn how to avoid being destroyed, which means these treatments no longer work and patients often see their breast cancer return.
Dr. Gilmore said: "Understanding more about how the body's natural defences work and why breast-cancer cells can avoid them will help develop new drugs that can kill invasive cells that have become resistant to standard treatment."
A further £143,000 has been awarded by the charity to Dr Keith Brennan, again in Life Sciences, to uncover how a group of proteins called Notch are able to protect breast-cancer cells from dying.
"Notch proteins appear to shield breast-cancer cells from the body's natural defences and also from being destroyed by chemotherapy," said Dr. Brennan.
"This research will help to uncover exactly how Notch proteins have this effect and whether inhibiting their action may be one way of making chemotherapy treatments more effective."
Pamela Goldberg, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, added: "The spread of breast-cancer cells to other areas of the body is the single most important factor in breast-cancer mortality.
"When breast-cancer cells become invasive they become less responsive to treatment and the disease becomes more difficult for a clinician to manage.
"Both these studies could help to develop new drugs which kill breast-cancer cells before they have an opportunity to spread."