Identifying the drivers of breast cancer

June 24, 2013
Identifying the drivers of breast cancer
Credit: Shutterstock

Information on what causes breast cancer is sorely lacking, making early detection crucial. The sooner breast cancer is found, the greater the chance of treatment and cure.

But the situation becomes more complicated when patients are diagnosed with specific subtypes of - invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) and triple negative (TN) breast cancer - because there is no available treatment. ILC accounts for 10 percent of breast cancer worldwide, and TN for 15 percent.

The EU-funded RATHER ('Rational therapy for breast cancer: individualised treatment for difficult-to-treat breast cancer subtypes') project is determined to identify and validate new kinase targets to treat both subtypes.

Backed with almost EUR 6 million in funding under the Health theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the RATHER partners have put the subset of human proteins known as kinases under the microscope. Kinases play a key role in regulating how cells function. Past studies have suggested a link between cancer and changes to one or more of the 500 human .

The consortium is investigating the kinase alternations specific to the two . ILC surfaces within the milk-producing lobules of the breast. TN, meanwhile, is characterised by a lack of , and receptors.

The team got the ball rolling in 2011 by investigating 300 clinical samples from150 patients diagnosed with ILC and 150 with TN. The researchers wanted to see whether the data would help them determine the key differences between normal and diseased . 'Our hope is that some of these differences/alterations will prove to be drivers of disease,' says the team, 'meaning that they are involved in causing the disease, as opposed to being random side-effects of the condition.' Because driver alterations represent promising therapeutic targets, it is important to identify them.

As the changes that take place within the breast cancer subtypes can vary, the partners are also developing molecular diagnostic tests. These will allow doctors to select the best treatment option for patients.

When the team finds the promising kinase alterations and their corresponding kinase inhibitors, they will begin clinical trials to assess patient responses to the drugs. The molecular diagnostic tests will be used to determine which patients participate in the trial. This is to ensure the project involves the patients who will benefit most from the drugs.

The RATHER consortium is headed by University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, which is joined by research institutes, universities and companies from Spain, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

Explore further: Researchers discover biological diversity in triple-negative breast cancer

Related Stories

Researchers discover biological diversity in triple-negative breast cancer

February 13, 2013
Triple-negative breast cancers are more biologically diverse than previously believed and classification should be expanded to reflect this heterogeneity, according to University of North Carolina researchers.

Black women have worse breast cancer mortality regardless of cancer subtype

April 8, 2013
Black women with breast cancer had significantly worse survival compared with other racial and ethnic groups across cancer subtypes, which suggests that the survival differences are not solely attributable to the fact that ...

Scientists find promising new target for aggressive breast cancer

March 20, 2013
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, ...

Researchers identify critical metabolic alterations in triple-negative breast cancer cells

April 9, 2013
Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center have identified a host of small molecules critical to metabolism in cells of triple-negative breast cancer—one of the least understood groups of breast cancer. These molecules, called ...

Tools for better understanding breast cancer stem cells

June 4, 2013
A joint project between the Griffith University and the UQ Centre for clinical Research (UQCCR) has characterised an in vitro model that allows further studies on the breast cancer biology.

Study finds potential to match tumors with known cancer drugs

February 5, 2013
When it comes to gene sequencing and personalized medicine for cancer, spotting an aberrant kinase is a home run. The proteins are relatively easy to target with drugs and plenty of kinase inhibitors already exist.

Recommended for you

No dye: Cancer patients' gray hair darkened on immune drugs

July 21, 2017
Cancer patients' gray hair unexpectedly turned youthfully dark while taking novel drugs, and it has doctors scratching their heads.

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

0 comments

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.