Breast cancer therapies: News in brief

New target for breast cancer therapy?

Scientists have identified higher levels of a receptor protein found on the surface of human breast tumour cells that may serve as a new drug target for the treatment of breast cancer.

The study of more than 100 breast cancer patients, shows that elevated levels of the protein Ret are associated with a lower likelihood of survival following breast cancer surgery. Blocking Ret kinase may not only help decrease the growth of tumours, but also may inhibit the potential of the cancer to spread throughout the body, say the authors.

 

The Trojan Horse of cancer therapy

A unique nanoscale drug that can carry a variety of weapons and sneak into cancer cells to attack from the inside has a new component: a protein that stimulates the immune system to attack HER2-positive breast cancer cells.

Researchers combined the commonly used breast-cancer treatment drug, Herceptin, with interleukin-2 immune-stimulating protein. Alone, this protein is unstable in blood plasma and doesn’t home into tumour cells specifically, but combined with Herceptin it can be stabilised and a higher dose can be administered directly to the tumour, according to the recent study on mice.

 

Treating triple-negative breast cancer

A novel biological pathway, the OGF-OGFr axis, can be modulated in human triple-negative breast cancer cells to inhibit proliferation.

This type of cancer does not respond to most approved therapies as there are no oestrogen or progesterone receptors, nor an over-expression of HER-2. Now researchers demonstrate that exposure of these cancer cells to OGF in vitro repressed growth within 24 hours. This gives hope for future treatments of these tough tumours.

 

Tackling breast cancer spread to brain

Researchers have successfully combined cellular and gene therapies in a mouse model to develop a treatment strategy for breast cancer that has metastasised to the patient’s brain.

The blood-brain barrier prevents many anti-cancer drugs from reaching areas of the brain affected by metastasis. However, two therapies, injecting lab-sensitised T-cells into affected parts of the brain, and infecting tumour cells with a gene which causes them to turn nontoxoc 5-flurocytosine to a toxic type and die, can fight this cancer. A combination has the best potential, say the reserachers.

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