Published On: Wed, Nov 30th, 2016

Israeli Research Reveals New Combination Therapy for Aggressive Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Treatment options for Triple Negative Breast Cancer are limited to standard chemotherapy, which in many cases proves ineffective; The potential dual-acting therapeutic strategy not only inhibits tumor growth and survival but also circumvents the problem of drug-induced resistance.

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A promising new combination therapy for a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer has been identified by Israeli Weizmann Institute scientists. The potential dual-acting therapeutic strategy not only inhibits tumor growth and survival but also circumvents the problem of drug-induced resistance.

About one-fifth of all breast cancers are triple negative, which means that more than 300, 000 women worldwide are diagnosed every year with this form of malignancy.

Triple negative breast cancer is harder to treat than other types of breast cancer because, as its name suggests, it lacks three receptors that usually serve as targets for anti-cancer drugs. Treatment options are therefore limited to standard chemotherapy, which in many cases proves ineffective.

In their study, Weizmann Institute scientists identified a subset of triple negative breast cancer patients whose tissue samples expressed higher levels of two particular molecules: EGFR and PYK2. EGFR – a cell-surface receptor – has been implicated in a number of cancers when it is overexpressed due to mutations. PYK2 – a robust molecule previously discovered by Prof. Sima Lev – plays a key role in breast cancer metastasis.

The scientists found that, in animal models, inhibiting either of these molecules alone led to a slight tumor reduction, but inhibiting them both together resulted in a more potent therapeutic effect, leading to a significant decrease in tumor size.

Upon further investigation, Lev and her team were able to identify the exact molecular pathways and protein interactions which involvement leads to tumor growth and survival, and the results appear to explain the potent effect when they are inhibited together. Most strikingly, the team discovered that inhibition of these moleculs could also bypass the problem of resistance to EGFR antagonists.

“We believe that this combination therapy – targeting both EGFR and PYK2 – provides a promising, more effective approach for a subset of triple negative breast cancer patients than other combinations that are currently being tested, owing to its ability to impede tumor growth and survival and prevent drug resistance, ” says Lev.

 

 

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