Weekly Breast Cancer Research Update – June 2016 – #1June 6th, 2016
Proteins carry out most of the cells’ activities and are critical components in the structures of our organs and tissues. If you take a medication for any reason, chances are that drug acts on a protein to do its job. And although changes to DNA are ultimately at cancer’s root, it’s the proteins that directly drive cancerous cells’ activity. This article explains why the study of proteins, called proteomics, is important for personalised treatments.
A clinical trial involving 1,918 patients has demonstrated that taking hormonal drugs for up to 15 years reduces the risk of breast cancers coming back, showing the risk was cut by a third.
Around 80 per cent of breast cancer tumours are fuelled by the female sex hormone, estrogen, which have a low but persistent risk of returning many years later. Experts say the findings will change treatment for millions of women, but also warned there were risks from side-effects, including osteoporosis.
The most successful treatments for breast cancer target hormone receptors; if you remove the hormone or block it, the cancer cells are less likely to survive. But triple-negative tumours are so far unresponsive to receptor-targeted treatments. However, a team of US researchers have recently found that two-thirds of triple-negative breast cancers express vitamin D, and have successfully used a combination vitamin D and androgen receptor-targeted therapy. The discovery offers a new treatment option beyond chemotherapy for this aggressive type of breast cancer.
NBCF note: In 2012 NBCF funded an innovative project that looked at the effects of treating bone metastasis with a combination treatment including vitamin E derivatives, to deliver the vitamin directly into the bone to keep them strong. This promising research is ongoing, working towards clinical trials.