New Compound Holds Promise for Most Aggressive Triple-negative Breast Cancer

New Compound Holds Promise for Most Aggressive Triple-negative Breast Cancer
In just under four years, researchers have identified the gene involved in the development of metaplastic breast cancer -- the most aggressive type of triple-negative breast cancer -- and advanced a potential treatment for the disease to clinical trials. The findings, in a study titled "Role of RPL39 in Metaplastic Breast Cancer," were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "We not only uncovered the biological pathway stimulating cancer growth, but we found a compound that blocked it, increasing the survival of mice carrying human metaplastic breast tumors," Jenny C. Chang, MD, director of the Houston Methodist Cancer Center, and the study's senior author, said in a news release. While metaplastic breast cancer accounts for less than 1 percent of all breast cancer, it is the most aggressive type of triple-negative breast cancer, and the odds of patients surviving are low. A key reason is that metaplastic tumors are highly unresponsive to chemotherapy. Only 40 percent of those who get the disease survive for three years. The survival rate for triple-negative breast cancer patients as a whole is 70 percent. Triple-negative cancers test negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2. If a cancer has any of the receptors, it can be targeted with hormone therapies that block the pathways the receptors activate. Triple-negative breast cancers are unresponsive to hormone therapy, so doctors treat them with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. R
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