Tuesday, 5 February 2013

New approach against HER2 positive breast cancers

Researchers from the University of Manchester announced yesterday, the discovery of a new way to enhance the efficacy of an already used anti-breast cancer drug, mainly by inducing it to target breast cancer stem cells. The approach proposed in the study is mainly focused on HER-2 positive breast cancers but the researchers strongly believe it also has implications for other more common types of breast cancer as well.

The researchers, led by Robert Clarke, extracted 19 cancer stem cell samples from 16 patients with HER-2 positive breast cancer. They found out that the patients that had higher amounts of cancer stem cells also presented with higher amounts of the Interleukin-8 (IL-8) protein. Further experimentation showed that the inhibition of this protein resulted in a significant improvement of Lapatinib's effectiveness, a drug given for breast cancer and other solid tumours.

Computer generated picture of the Interleukin-8 molecule
Computer generated image of the Interleukin-8 protein

Clarke believes that their method has the potential to stop metastasis and/or recurrences of HER-2 breast cancers, adding that the study has potential applications for non HER-2 positive breast cancers as well.

Clarke says that further research on breast cancer stem cells holds the key to win the combat against breast cancer once and for all. Finally he thanked the Breast Cancer Campaign who funded his work

" We’re making progress every day but we can only get there with charities like Breast Cancer Campaign and their support of our work." 

HER2-positive breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that tests positive for the HER2 protein, which promotes the growth and development of cancer cells. HER2 stands for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. It is estimated that about 1 of every 5 breast cancers are HER2 positive.

Informational video about HER2 positive breast cancers

Singh JK, Farnie G, Bundred NJ, Simões BM, Shergill A, Landberg G, Howell SJ, & Clarke RB (2013). Targeting CXCR1/2 Significantly Reduces Breast Cancer Stem Cell Activity and Increases the Efficacy of Inhibiting HER2 via HER2-Dependent and -Independent Mechanisms. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, 19 (3), 643-56 PMID: 23149820