Oftentimes with cancers or rare conditions, there are subtypes of the cancer or disease. Breast cancer is no different. For example, a breast cancer diagnosis may encompass BRCA gene mutations or triple-negative breast cancer. The latter, which is usually treated using chemotherapy, is unfortunately becoming more and more treatment-resistant. In fact, an estimated 70% of patients with this form have a cancer that opposes treatment.
However, shares Medical XPress, researchers from the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dublin recently discovered a special molecule that could act as a new treatment for triple-negative breast cancer by selectively destroying cancerous cells. Find the full study results published in Science Advances.
Researchers wondered how they might be able to use various molecules to selectively attack and kill cancerous cells. However, this molecule would also need to be safe, preventing normal and non-cancerous cells from damage. After testing and evaluating many molecules, they determined that BAS-2 performed these functions. Next, they tested the molecules and found that BAS-2 worked by inhibiting HDAC6, an enzyme which helps change cancerous cell energy.
Moving forward, researchers hope to develop BAS-2 into a therapeutic compound to see if it could be used as a treatment option for patients.
While there is no known cause of breast cancer, most cancers are caused by the rapid multiplication of cancerous cells. For breast cancer, which forms in the breast, researchers believe both genetics and environmental factors may play a role in cancer development. However, up to 10% of all diagnoses are a result of BRCA gene mutations. Additional risk factors include age, being female, obesity, radiation exposure, early menstruation or late menopause, alcohol use, and never being pregnant. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in females, although it can affect males as well.
An estimated 10-20% of breast cancer is triple-negative breast cancer, according to BreastCancer.org. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization explains that triple-negative breast cancer:
tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and excess HER2 protein. These results mean the [cancer growth] is not fueled by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, or by HER2 protein [so] triple-negative breast cancer does not respond to hormonal therapy medicines or medicines that target HER2 protein receptors.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A lump in the breast tissue
- Inverted nipples
- Pitted, red, flaking, crusted, scaly, or peeling breast skin
- Breast skin dimpling
- Changes in breast size, shape, or appearance
Learn more about breast cancer.