Scientists find promising new target for aggressive breast cancer

March 20, 2013
Scientists find promising new target for aggressive breast cancer

Women with triple-negative breast cancer are more likely to have high levels of the MET biomarker in their tumours, making it a good new target for cancer drugs according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer, today (Wednesday).

Scientists from Austria and Greece examined 170 tumour samples from patients with triple negative breast cancer – a less common but aggressive type of the disease.

They found that over half of these women had high levels of the MET biomarker. The MET protein plays an important role in cell development but is often faulty in .

The study also showed that women with high levels of this biomarker were three times more likely to have a within five years of diagnosis than those with low levels (33 per cent compared to 11 per cent).

And nearly 90 per cent of tumours – called G3 – that are known to be more likely to spread, had high levels of the biomarker.

Over 7,500 women develop triple negative breast cancer each year. But the disease is often hard to treat as it does not contain any of the receptors such as oestrogen, progesterone or that are targeted by common treatments such as hormone therapy or Herceptin.

Professor Martin Filipits, study author from the Medical University of Vienna, said: "Our findings suggest that levels of the MET biomarker in a patient's breast tumour could be an important way of predicting the best type of treatment for women with triple negative breast cancer.

"This aggressive type of breast cancer is harder to treat as the tumours don't have the receptors that the common drugs can target – blocking the growth of the tumour.

"But knowing which women have high levels of this molecule in their could help doctors to adapt the type of treatment they're given.
"Levels of this could also give an idea of how likely the cancer is to come back."

Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "Triple negative breast cancer can be very difficult to treat but this interesting research could open up the possibility of new approaches to monitor and treat this aggressive disease.

"Last year a Cancer Research UK study found that even among patients with the same type of breast cancer, such as triple negative, no two women's tumours will be exactly the same. What we call 'breast cancer' is in fact at least ten different diseases, each with its own molecular fingerprint, and each with different weak spots.

"This is a challenge and we continue to support research that aims to identify these weak spots and develop better treatments for all types of ."

Explore further: New hope for thousands of women with most aggressive breast cancer

More information: Zagouri, F et al, High MET expression is an adverse prognostic factor in patients with triple-negative breast cancer (2013) BJC, DOI:10.1038/bjc.2013.31

Related Stories

New hope for thousands of women with most aggressive breast cancer

September 7, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at The University of Nottingham have identified a protein which could help predict survival outcomes for women with the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.

Researchers uncover multiple faces of deadly breast cancer

April 4, 2012
An international team of scientists, including four at Simon Fraser University, has made a discovery that will change the way the most deadly form of breast cancer is treated.

Silencing a deadly conversation in breast cancer

June 2, 2011
While it is already known that breast cancer cells create the conditions for their own survival by communicating their needs to the healthy cells that surround them, Australian researchers have identified a new way of turning ...

Scientists identify progenitor cells, potential new 'roots' of breast cancer

October 29, 2012
Scientists have discovered new types of early cells in mammary glands, uncovering clues to the origins of different breast cancers - and potential new drug targets, according to findings published in Breast Cancer Research.

Recommended for you

CAR-T immunotherapy may help blood cancer patients who don't respond to standard treatments

October 20, 2017
Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is one of the first centers nationwide to offer a new immunotherapy that targets certain blood cancers. Newly approved ...

Researchers pinpoint causes for spike in breast cancer genetic testing

October 20, 2017
A sharp rise in the number of women seeking BRCA genetic testing to evaluate their risk of developing breast cancer was driven by multiple factors, including celebrity endorsement, according to researchers at the University ...

Study shows how nerves drive prostate cancer

October 19, 2017
In a study in today's issue of Science, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, part of Montefiore Medicine, report that certain nerves sustain prostate cancer growth by triggering a switch that causes tumor vessels ...

Gene circuit switches on inside cancer cells, triggers immune attack

October 19, 2017
Researchers at MIT have developed a synthetic gene circuit that triggers the body's immune system to attack cancers when it detects signs of the disease.

One to 10 mutations are needed to drive cancer, scientists find

October 19, 2017
For the first time, scientists have provided unbiased estimates of the number of mutations needed for cancers to develop, in a study of more than 7,500 tumours across 29 cancer types. Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger ...

Researchers target undruggable cancers

October 19, 2017
A new approach to targeting key cancer-linked proteins, thought to be 'undruggable," has been discovered through an alliance between industry and academia.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.