February 18, 2018 |
Common Breast Cancer Mutation Could Be Vulnerable to Drug Combination
December 14, 2016  | 

Durham, NC – Breast cancer cells that carry a certain gene mutation can be induced to die using a combination of an existing targeted therapy along with an investigational molecule tested by Duke Cancer Institute researchers.

When used together in preclinical experiments, the drugs shut down two of the key survival strategies these types of cancer cells use to evade treatment. 

The finding in mouse models and human tumor cells has wide implications for advancing treatment if planned clinical trials prove the approach successful. About 35 percent of breast cancers have this gene mutation when they are discovered, and even more develop the mutation after exposure to standard treatments, which could make them susceptible to the combination approach.

“This work reflects several careful studies to not only define the mechanism of action of the combination therapy, but also to explore the therapy’s activity in cellular and animal models,” said Kris C. Wood, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology at Duke and senior author of the study published Dec. 14 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“Our preliminarily findings suggest that this therapy may be a safe and effective approach in human breast cancer patients who carry this mutation,” Wood said.

Wood and colleagues, including lead author Grace R. Anderson, began their investigation with a medical contradiction: Breast tumors proliferate in part because the regulatory processes that control cell growth and death go awry. Several drugs inhibit these regulatory pathways, but they have shown modest results in solid tumors, including breast cancers. Continue>

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