Recent laboratory findings provide novel insight into potential new therapeutic approaches for triple-negative breast cancer, a particularly difficult to treat and aggressive form of the disease.
Triple-negative breast cancer is resistant to many current therapies because it lacks three major receptors that are present in other forms of the disease. These proteins - the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), and receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone - are targets for many common breast cancer treatments. Their absence in triple-negative cases eliminates many of the treatment options available to patients with other types of breast cancer, underscoring the importance of developing new, more targeted therapies.
In a study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, scientists demonstrated in preclinical experiments that the drug cabozantinib inhibits growth of several triple-negative breast cancer subtypes.
One target of cabozantinib is the MET protein, which drives many of the processes that make cancer aggressive and challenging to treat, including invasion of other tissues, proliferation and survival of cancer cells. MET is overexpressed in 20 to 30 percent of all breast cancer cases, and is typically associated with poor outcome. Previously, researchers have demonstrated that MET is expressed in triple-negative breast cancer and is a potential therapeutic target.
In preclinical experiments, the researchers demonstrated that cabozantinib impedes triple-negative breast cancer progression and spread by inhibiting the MET protein. They used unique cancer models that include both breast cancer cells and the connective tissue cells that often support cancer growth. Their findings not only provide evidence for cabozantinib's therapeutic potential for triple-negative breast cancer, but also imply that MET plays a crucial role in growth and invasion by triple-negative cancer cells.
The researchers plan to continue exploring the potential of MET inhibitors as therapies for triple-negative breast cancer in addition to conducting further analysis on their models to define characteristics that may be used as diagnostic tools.
Based on material originally posted by Van Andel Research Institute.