Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have found a potential predictor of response to the chemotherapy drug Taxol, which is commonly used before or after surgery for stage I-III breast cancers, even though only a subset of women ultimately benefit from this treatment.
Patients whose breast cancer cells have lost their ability to express a protein called "tau" are twice as likely to have a good response to Taxol treatment, the researchers report at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium meeting.
The finding makes sense because tau promotes the assembly of microtubules, which provide structure to the cell and help it divide. Taxol works by binding to microtubules to form an inappropriately stable structure which ultimately leads to cell death. "In the absence of tau, Taxol stabilizes microtubules more easily," says the studys lead researcher, Lajos Pusztai, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology.
Nancy Jensen | EurekAlert!
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