Repurposing an Existing Therapy for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Finish Year: 2021
Chief Investigator: Professor Kum Kum Khanna
Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are present in up to 20% of breast cancer patients. Unfortunately, TNBC tumours are often aggressive and fast-growing. One gene, called TP53, plays a large role in these tumours, with TP53 found in over 85% of patients with TNBC. This gene has shown much promise for it to be integrated as an element of a new treatment for TNBC.
In this NBCF-funded study, Professor Kum Kum Khanna and her team will repurpose an existing drug to investigate its efficacy against cancers with the mutant p53 gene. The drug, called auranofin, is currently used in the treatment of inflammatory and rheumatoid arthritis. It contains the element gold, and can be taken as an oral tablet. Auranofin is also currently being investigated as a possible treatment for neurodegenerative disorders, HIV/AIDS and bacterial infections.
Prof Khanna’s study will test auranofin in combination with standard chemotherapy drugs in a model of mutant p53 TNBC cancer. The research holds promise for rapid translation into the clinic, as the drug has previously been approved by the FDA in the US and has minimal side effects. The other advantage with “re-purposing” drugs such auranofin is that the timeline and cost to take the drug through clinical trials will be far less, providing a quicker, cheaper alternative than a completely new drug.