Scientists from China's Fudan University have developed a new strategy to treat a highly aggressive form of breast cancer by transforming treatment-resistant tumors into a more treatable state.
According to the study, the new strategy can be integrated into existing regimens to improve outcomes in affected patients Triple negative breast cancer.
Some cancers are more aggressive than others, even when detected early. This is what happens in so-called “triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), which represents up to 15% of all breast cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.
In triple-negative breast cancer, the cancer cells lack estrogen or progesterone receptors, or they lack or contain too much of the protein HER2.
The researchers analyzed the metabolism of tumor samples from 401 patients with varying degrees of homologous recombination deficiency. These scores reflect the tumor's response to DNA-damaging drugs, while patients with low deficiency tend to not respond.
The researchers identified one molecule, called GDP-M, that hinders DNA repair in cancer cells, mainly by promoting the degradation of a cancer-related protein.
The model studied in mice was able to make supplements with the molecule that causes breast tumors more responsive to approved DNA-damaging drugs such as cisplatin and enhanced anti-tumor immunity.
In addition, GDP-M has been shown to enable a class of targeted agents for breast cancer treatment called PIRP inhibitors. The researchers explained that the new discovery indicates a clinical strategy that combines GDP-M with a treatment targeting DNA repair.