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Researchers develop new drug  to treat triple-negative breast cancer

In what is referred to as triple-negative breast cancer, the researchers have created a drug component that appears to block the proliferation of cancer cells. The medicine, which has not yet been studied in humans, has been proven to destroy tumors in mice while having little to no negative effects on healthy, normal cells, suggesting that it may not be harmful to patients.

The treatment is based on a recently identified mechanism by which the epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR, gene causes cancer. Long studied oncogene, or gene that under particular conditions can change a cell into a cancerous cell, is EGFR.

About 10 to 15 percent of all breast cancers are triple-negative. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer caused by excess amounts of HER2 protein, progesterone, or estrogen is referred to as triple-negative, meaning that the cancer cells do not test positive for any of the other three kinds of the disease. Black or women under 40 with a certain BRCA1 gene mutation are more likely to develop triple-negative breast cancer than other types of breast cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health, the EGFR oncogene is overexpressed in around 50% of all cases of triple-negative breast cancer.

Joyce Schroeder, who co-wrote the paper with lead author Benjamin Atwell, a postdoctoral student in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology said, “EGFR has been known to be an oncogene for six decades, and there’s a lot of drugs out there trying to target it, but they all had limitations that didn’t make them workable as drugs for breast cancer.”

The team is attempting to obtain Food and Drug Administration approval to test the molecule in phase I clinical trials after their findings were published in the journal Cancer Gene Therapy.

Information was sourced from Arizona Education Department

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