Australian researchers find breast cancer breakthrough

Australian breast cancer researchers have made a major discovery that could save the lives of thousands of women and men.

Around 3000 Australians die of breast cancer each year, compared with 600 people in New Zealand.

Researchers here are hopeful the treatment could save almost all of those lives.

After six years of research, they've managed to switch off the protein that causes cancer cells to spread.

Forty-two Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer each day.

One of those was Sydney mother Dai Le, who received the dreaded news in 2014.

"It had the potential to spread through my body. For a moment I thought I wasn't going to survive," she says.

But the tumour was removed, and luckily she's in the clear.

Now Sydney researchers are giving other sufferers new hope, by identifying the protein responsible for cancer growth.

Dr Samantha Oakes from the Sydney Garvin Institute of Medicine says their tests showed cancer cells dying in many cases.

"Mortality from breast cancer and other cancers mostly occurs when that cancer has spread to other organs. Ultimately this is a treatment to target secondary cancer," she explains.

"When we turned off that protein, we could turbo charge the ability of a cancer drug that's already in clinical trial for many cancers called disatnive.

"Now this protein controls a life and death switch, inside of all cells in the body."

With major success testing the research on mice, they're hopeful it will be just as successful on humans when trials begin in roughly five years' time.