Triple-negative breast cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of its kind. Most people who suffer from this disease go through metastatic disease and tumor recurrence despite taking the standard chemotherapy treatment. An assistant professor, Dr. Lori Chan, lead research that has figured out a specific gene that is involved in the population of cancer stem cell (CSC) method of triple-negative breast cancer. Once the action of this gene is blocked, the researchers will be able to improve the response of tumors to chemotherapy.
The major issue with breast cancer of the form triple-negative is that the tissue that is involved in its development also harbors in tumors, CSC enriched populations. The chemotherapies currently used to treat the triple-negative breast cancer, destroy the cancer cells but will also spare the majority of the CSC populations that tend to trigger a recurrence.
“We identified a core molecular pathway that controls CSC activity and a key gene in that process called USP2,” explained Dr. Chan. “USP2 is an essential gene that upregulates CSCs in triple-negative breast cancer. We used a genetic approach to block the action of USP2, and by doing that discovered this eliminates the CSC population and re-sensitizes the tumor response to chemotherapy.”
Dr. Chan said that, hence, elimination or resistance to chemotherapy can be reduced by blocking of this gene, which is potentially a curative way for the treatment of this disease. Although antibody or hormonal therapies are effective on other types of breast cancer, they have no effect on the tumor recurrence of triple-negative breast cancer.
The co-investors of Dr. Chan are Dr. Jiabei He, some scientists from the cancer center of Stony Brook University, and a few researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center.