Gene Signature Can Predict Breast Cancer Responsiveness to New Class of Drugs, Scientists Say

Gene Signature Can Predict Breast Cancer Responsiveness to New Class of Drugs, Scientists Say
Scientists have discovered a gene signature in certain types of breast cancer that can be used to determine the likelihood of these tumors responding to treatment with a new class of anti-cancer medications known as Smac-mimetics. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) was one of the best responders, suggesting these agents may be adopted as a new line of therapy for this difficult-to-treat form of breast cancer in the future, investigators noted. Their findings were reported in the study, “Targeting triple-negative breast cancers with the Smac-mimetic birinapant,” published in the journal Cell Death & Differentiation. Smac-mimetics are a new class of targeted therapies that work by mimicking the effects of naturally-produced Smac proteins. These proteins promote cell death by curbing the activity of inhibitor of apoptosis proteins, which are associated with tumor survival and cancer progression. Some Smac-mimetics, including LCL161 (developed by Novartis) and birinapant (jointly developed by TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals and Medivir) have entered clinical testing in Phase 2 trials as potential anti-cancer therapies for a variety of solid tumors, including breast cancer. “Unfortunately there is still some uncertainty as to which cancers will respond to Smac-mimetics. While birinapant appears to be a safe therapy for cancer patients and has entered Phase 2 clinical trials, it has been hard to predict which patients will respond to this drug,” Najoua Lalaoui, PhD, researcher at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and first author of the study, said in a press release. Investigators were particularly interested in finding if these compounds could be effective against specific types of breast cancer, including TNBC, which usually fails to respond to ot
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