Scientists at The Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit Identify Potential New Target for Breast Cancer Therapy
Abstract # 25670
Karmanos scientists tested 84 cases of hormone receptor negative human breast carcinomas and discovered that the protein EZH-2 was expressed in 74 percent of those cases. Hormone receptor negative breast carcinoma is considered an aggressive cancer and one that is hard to treat. The finding suggests that EZH-2 could be an important therapeutic target in this patient population.
“We were interested in looking at a new target,” said Zeina Nahleh, M.D., co-director of the Breast Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at Karmanos Cancer Institute and assistant professor of medicine in hematology and oncology at
Sixty-one samples that researchers used were triple negative breast cancer cases and 23 cases were HER-2/neu positive. Scientists found that the increased expression of EZH-2 meant an increase in tumor size and an increase in lymph node metastasis.
Dr. Nahleh said that increased identification of proteins in these aggressive forms of breast cancer is needed to develop better treatments. The discovery of the high rate of EZH-2 protein expression in breast cancer cases opens up a new avenue in doing just that.
“We are extremely excited about this discovery,” she said. “This is amazing work. In the future, this could be a target for therapy.”
The identification of EZH-2 represents just the first step in the mission to find more proteins that cause deadly breast cancer tumors and assess them for possible therapeutic targets. There is much work ahead, according to Dr. Nahleh.
“The ground-breaking work will come if we can identify a specific method to target this EZH-2 protein and show that this approach would lead to meaningful clinical results,” she said. “We have to go back and look at survival rates. We have to consider years of follow-up work and we have to look at other associated factors.
“This will hopefully lead to new targeted therapy strategies based on our new understanding of the biology of cancer.”
Fellow investigators include
Dr. Nahleh noted that the discovery of a potential therapeutic target wouldn’t be possible without the laboratory and clinical breast cancer research at Karmanos and its collaborative partnerships.
“I think this discovery highlights the importance of multidisciplinary work in oncology between clinical and scientific researchers,” she said. “This is what Karmanos is all about.”
Located in mid-town
SOURCE Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute