A breakthrough has been found in the fight against an aggressive breast cancer. Researchers at Tulane University School of Medicine have identified a gene that causes an aggressive form of breast cancer to rapidly grow. However, they’ve found a way to flip the switch and turn the gene off to prevent cancer from occurring.
Dr. Reza Izadpanah and his team examined the role two genes play (including one they discovered) in causing triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), which is identified as the most aggressive type of breast cancer. They found that suppressing the expression of either gene led to a decline in tumor growth and spread of cancer to other organs.
“Our findings show that both genes play a role in breast cancer growth and metastasis. This exciting discovery has revealed that TRAF3IP2 can play a role as a novel therapeutic target in breast cancer treatment.” Dr. Izadpanah says. They specifically identified an inhibitor of the TRAF3IP2 gene, which they found suppressed the growth and spread of TNBC in mouse models that closely resemble humans. In similar studies, they had also examined how TRAF3IP2 and another gene called RAB27a play roles in the production of substances that can cause tumor formation.
When Rab27a was suppressed, the tumor didn’t grow but it continued to spread a small number of cancer cells to other parts of the body, but when researchers turned off the TRAF3IP2 gene, they found no spread (metastasis) of the original tumor cells for a full year following treatment. Furthermore, they say inhibiting the TRAF3IP2 gene not only stopped future tumor growth, but caused existing tumors to shrink to undetectable levels.
Dr. Bysani Chandrasekar of the University of Missouri, have also joined in the Tulane research efforts and found that targeting TRAF3IP2 can stop the spread of glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer. They say their studies on mice are so compelling they are seeking FDA approval to begin clinical trials.