Cancer

New compound boosts treatment for aggressive breast cancer

women showing off breast cancer ribbons
A new anticancer compound shows promise for treating triple-negative breast cancer, which is typically very aggressive.

Although breast cancer survival rates are overall very high, some forms of cancer are more difficult to treat than others. However, a new compound proves highly effective against these types by targeting a protein that makes cancer cells resistant to treatment.

Triple-negative breast cancer is often resistant to treatment. Its name refers to the hormone receptor status that divides breast cancer into different types, and the cells in this type of cancer are called triple-negative because they do not have estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, or the protein HER2.

Triple-negative breast cancer tumors can be particularly aggressive, and they tend to occur in women with a defective BRCA1 gene.

It is estimated that approximately 12 percent of breast cancers are triple-negative.

New research, which has recently been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, tests the effect of a novel anticancer agent on treating different types of breast cancer and finds that a new compound – when administered in combination with conventional anticancer drugs – is “highly effective” for treating both triple negative and HER2 positive breast cancers.

As the authors of the new study note, treatment for triple-negative breast cancer has seen little improvement in the past 30 years, so the recent findings are particularly welcome in this context.

The researchers were led by Dr. Delphine Merino, Dr. James Whittle, Dr. François Vaillant, Prof. Jane Visvader, and Prof. Geoff Lindeman, all of whom are from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia.

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