Alternative target for breast cancer drugs

July 19, 2013, European Molecular Biology Organization

Scientists have identified higher levels of a receptor protein found on the surface of human breast tumour cells that may serve as a new drug target for the treatment of breast cancer. The results, which are published today in EMBO Molecular Medicine, show that elevated levels of the protein Ret, which is short for "Rearranged during transfection", are associated with a lower likelihood of survival for breast cancer patients in the years following surgery to remove tumours and cancerous tissue.

"Our findings suggest that Ret kinase might be an attractive and novel alternative in selected groups of breast cancer patients," remarked Nancy Hynes, Professor at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Re-search and the University of Basel, Switzerland. "Initial experiments in mice that serve as model organisms for the study of breast cancer have revealed that specific inhibitors significantly block the spread of cancer and decrease the number of metastatic tumours found in the lungs."

The scientists examined tumour tissue microarrays of more than 100 who had undergone surgery to remove their tumours. Antibodies were used to detect the levels of Ret in the samples. In other experiments, four different cancer cell lines were used and injected into mice to study the effects of Ret inhibitors on the progress and spread of the cancer.

"Our findings demonstrate that blocking Ret kinase not only decreases the growth of tumours but also impacts the potential of the cancer to spread throughout the body," Hynes said.

Targeting enzymes with antibodies or small molecular inhibitors is a clinically validated approach for cancer therapy. However, only a subset of patients are eligible for these types of treatments which makes it essential to discover additional inhibitors that could be useful in breast cancer therapy.

Explore further: Discovering a new role for a breast cancer gene

More information: doi: 10.1002/emmm.201302625

Related Stories

Discovering a new role for a breast cancer gene

January 18, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the School of Biosciences have identified an unexpected role for a tumour-associated gene in breast cancer.

Researcher discovers mechanism to slow tumor growth and metastasis in breast cancer

July 9, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine professor Julian Gomez-Cambronero, Ph.D., and his research team have discovered a key protein that plays a critical role in the development of breast ...

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, ...

RET rearrangement a new oncogene and potential target in lung cancer

June 3, 2013
In results presented at ASCO 2013, a University of Colorado Cancer Center study provides important details for a recently identified driver and target in lung adenocarcinoma: rearrangement of the gene RET. The finding is ...

When breast cancer spreads to lungs, surgery may increase survival

April 1, 2013
(HealthDay)—Patients with breast cancer that has spread to the lungs may live longer if they have surgery to remove the lung tumors, a new study from Germany suggests.

Recommended for you

Researchers create a drug to extend the lives of men with prostate cancer

March 16, 2018
Fifteen years ago, Michael Jung was already an eminent scientist when his wife asked him a question that would change his career, and extend the lives of many men with a particularly lethal form of prostate cancer.

Machine-learning algorithm used to identify specific types of brain tumors

March 15, 2018
An international team of researchers has used methylation fingerprinting data as input to a machine-learning algorithm to identify different types of brain tumors. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team ...

Higher doses of radiation don't improve survival in prostate cancer

March 15, 2018
A new study shows that higher doses of radiation do not improve survival for many patients with prostate cancer, compared with the standard radiation treatment. The analysis, which included 104 radiation therapy oncology ...

Joint supplement speeds melanoma cell growth

March 15, 2018
Chondroitin sulfate, a dietary supplement taken to strengthen joints, can speed the growth of a type of melanoma, according to experiments conducted in cell culture and mouse models.

Improved capture of cancer cells in blood could help track disease

March 15, 2018
Tumor cells circulating throughout the body in blood vessels have long been feared as harbingers of metastasizing cancer - even though most free-floating cancer cells will not go on to establish a new tumor.

Area surrounding a tumor impacts how breast cancer cells grow

March 14, 2018
Cancer is typically thought of as a tumor that needs to be removed or an area that needs to be treated with radiation or chemotherapy. As a physicist and cancer researcher, Joe Gray, Ph.D., thinks differently.


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.