In research published in the Jan. 21 issue of The Journal of Cell Biology, a team led by Susana Gonzalo, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Saint Louis University, has discovered a molecular pathway that contributes to triple-negative breast cancer, an often deadly and treatment resistant form of cancer that tends to strike younger women.
In addition, Gonzalo and her team identified vitamin D and some protease inhibitors as possible new therapies and discovered a set of three biomarkers that can help to identify patients who could benefit from the treatment.In the recent breakthrough, which was funded in part by a $500,000 Department of Defense grant, Gonzalo’s lab identified one pathway that is activated in breast cancers with the poorest prognosis, such as those classified as triple-negative. These cancers often strike younger women and are harder to treat than any other type of breast cancer. Women who are born with BRCA1 gene mutations are at increased risk for developing breast and ovarian cancers within their lifetime, and the tumors that arise are frequently the triple-negative type. Although chemotherapy is the most effective treatment for triple-negative breast cancer, it has profound secondary effects. Understanding the biology of triple-negative breast cancers will help to develop less toxic therapeutic strategies.
In addition, they discovered the potential for a new therapy involving vitamin D, and identified biomarkers that can help identify which patients could benefit from this therapy.
In the future, women with triple-negative breast cancer may benefit from a treatment that includes vitamin D. As with all laboratory research, vitamin D therapy will have to be studied in a clinical trial before doctors know how safe or effective it will be.
Researchers’ next steps will be to study molecular mechanisms behind the activation of the degradation of 53BP1 by CTSL. In addition, preclinical studies with vitamin D and cathepsin inhibitors as single agents or in combination with different drugs are underway in mouse models of breast cancers.
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious disease.
Carrie Bebermeyer | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > BRCA1 > BRCA1-deficient > Battling > DNA > Vitamin B > breast cancer > daughter cells > gene mutation > genomic instability > methanol fuel cells > molecular biologist > molecular mechanism > mouse model > ovarian cancer > poor prognosis > therapeutic strategies > triple-negative breast cancer > tumor cells > younger women
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