Students Staff

01 June 2013

New insights into treating aggressive triple-negative breast cancer

Colchester Campus

The search for a specific therapy to treat a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer has moved a step forward thanks to new research carried out by the University of Essex.

The study, which is part of an ongoing collaboration with researchers from the Medical School at Yale University in the United States, is published in the June issue of the American journal Neoplasia.

The research focused on triple receptor-negative breast cancer, a particularly malignant type of cancer which mainly affects pre-menopausal women. Although there are targeted therapies for other types of breast cancer, there are currently no specific drugs for women suffering from triple-negative breast cancer and they can only be treated with general approaches like chemotherapy.

The Essex team, led by Dr Metodi Metodiev, used a special technique called proteomics and nano-biotechnology to find out why breast tumours which have an abundance of a certain protein receptor, called CD74, tended to be more aggressive and likely to spread to other parts of the body.

Funded by a grant from the American Institutes of Health (NIH), the Essex researchers, working with Professor Richard Bucala from Yale, uncovered a new mechanism by which the CD74 receptor interferes with a protein called Scribble, which is a tumour suppressor and normally prevents the formation of cancer cells.

Dr Metodiev said: “Our research has led to a greater understanding of why these types of tumour are so aggressive and is a step towards the development of personalised therapy for triple-negative breast cancer.”


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