JAN 10, 2017 1:30 PM PST

Existing Drug Halts Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Metastasis

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

For aggressive, intractable triple-negative breast cancers, there’s still hope. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that a pre-existing drug that’s shown positive effects in another type of breast cancer may also halt the spread of triple-negative cancer.

Breast cancer is generally classified into 3 subtypes according to the presence or absence of three receptors: estrogen, progesterone, and the epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Typically, breast cancers positive for estrogen or HER2 respond well to hormone therapy. However, cancers that are negative for these receptors have proven more difficult to treat and manage. In particular, cancers that are negative for all three receptors, known as triple negative breast cancer, are most notorious for evading treatment.

In studying how the receptor-positive breast cancers respond to treatment, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that a class of inhibitors may also be effective against receptor-negative breast cancers.

The drugs are known as CDK 4/6 inhibitors, and they work by blocking the enzyme cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). Many cancers have high CDK activity, which promotes the unregulated proliferation of cancer cells. Inhibitors of this enzyme pathway have been shown to be effective against ER-positive and HER2-positive breast cancers. Recently, Palbociclib – another CDK 4/6 inhibitor – showed promising Phase II trial results in patients with HER2-negative breast cancer too.

CDK 4/6 inhibitors have previously been tested in triple-negative breast cancers with disappointing results – these drugs didn’t seem to reduce the growth of these cancers. But in applying the drugs to a triple-negative breast cancer mouse models, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that metastasis was halted. In essence the drug stopped the cancer from invading to other parts of the body.

Of note, metastasis is one of the biggest conditions that severely undermines the effectiveness of anticancer treatments. As such, a drug that can halt metastasis is still quite important, even if it can’t reduce the growth of the primary tumor. Perhaps this will lead to combination therapy that targets both the primary tumor and prevent spread to secondary organs, thereby increasing the survival rate.

"These findings may provide a new treatment for the prevention of cancer metastasis. Mayo Clinic is now developing new studies that will focus on the role of CDK 4/6 inhibitors and their potential to inhibit cancer metastasis in women with triple-negative breast cancer who are at highest risk for cancer metastasis,” said Matthew Goetz, the study’s co-author.

Additional sources: MNT, Mayo Clinic

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 11, 2020
Cancer
Using Deep Learning to Diagnose Breast Cancer Sub-Types
MAY 11, 2020
Using Deep Learning to Diagnose Breast Cancer Sub-Types
Cancer and computer programming may not sound like two things that go together. However, advanced programming techniques ...
MAY 14, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
New Tech Has Its AI on Brain Tumors
MAY 14, 2020
New Tech Has Its AI on Brain Tumors
  A collaboration across 29 research and healthcare agencies is putting together the world’s largest brain tu ...
MAY 12, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Novel Drug Approved for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
MAY 12, 2020
Novel Drug Approved for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a therapeutic for treating metastatic non-small cell lung ca ...
JUN 09, 2020
Cancer
Genetic counseling for prostate cancer testing goes telehealth
JUN 09, 2020
Genetic counseling for prostate cancer testing goes telehealth
Genetic testing for prostate cancer in men is not yet commonplace, despite the positive impact that it could have on dec ...
JUL 10, 2020
Cancer
Researching New RNA Biomarkers for Liver Cancer
JUL 10, 2020
Researching New RNA Biomarkers for Liver Cancer
The most important part of cancer treatment is the first step, diagnosis. Many cancers can lie dormant for years, reachi ...
JUL 10, 2020
Cancer
Why do black men suffer disproportionately from prostate cancer?
JUL 10, 2020
Why do black men suffer disproportionately from prostate cancer?
Cancer disparities by race are widely acknowledged. One in every six black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in ...
Loading Comments...