Sub-Saharan Africa is set to have the most women suffering from breast cancer by 2025. Globally, this number will reach over 19.3 million. Professor Collen Masimirembwa is leading research and interventions to try and address this issue. Collen has made important discoveries in genomics that are of clinical relevance to the safe and efficacious use of medicines in African populations
African women could be more vulnerable to breast cancer
With his team of researchers, Professor Collen has discovered a genetic variant in breast cancer that they believe adds to poor results in treatment outcomes. In South Africa, Professor Masimirembwa is applying GenoPharm on 500 breast cancer patients to identify those who might need dose adjustment for the main breast cancer drug.
GenoPharm is an innovative breast cancer test that includes genomic variants unique to Africans. It is the first and only SAHPRA (South African Health Products Regulatory Authority) registered pharmacogenomics test in Africa currently.
Collen intends to expand the reach of work into other countries in Africa, starting with Zimbabwe. He has submitted a proposal to apply GenoPharm to about 100 women at Harare Hospital in an attempt to improve treatment outcomes.
Pre-emptive steps for everyone
Breast cancer survival rate increases to over 90% when detected early in the localised stage. This is with good adherence to treatment.
Professor Masimirembwa concerningly noted: “We have also noticed that most women come late for testing at stage 3&4, and with others, a lot do not adhere to the prescribed drug intake.”
SANBio backing breast cancer awareness
In an effort to create awareness around breast cancer and the importance of early testing, SANBio went “pink” in October.