Maximising treatment for ER+ breast cancer

special_reportBreast cancers that respond to female hormones, such as estrogen, generate specific proteins that help tumor cells survive and grow. One such protein, HDM2, is known to be present in higher levels in many cancers including breast. These higher protein levels are strongly correlated with the presence of the estrogen receptor on breast cancer cells, which can affect how well chemotherapy works. Targeting the receptor is a common treatment for breast cancer.

Researchers from The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) will share their findings on a combined treatment targeting breast cancer that is stimulated by the hormone estrogen at the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). They are joining other top investigators from around the globe for the event, which is highlighting interdisciplinary approaches to cancer research. 

Among the abstracts being presented is one focusing on how the FDA-approved therapy fulvestrant can influence the effects of chemotherapy drugs on breast cancer cells. Fulvestrant is commonly used in postmenopausal women to treat estrogen receptive positive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Lead author Adriana V. Jager, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at CINJ, and her colleagues focused on adding fulvestrant to the traditional chemotherapy agents doxorubicin, etoposide and paclitaxel, as fulvestrant is known to degrade the estrogen receptor and result in less stimulation of tumor cell growth. They found that in two estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cell lines, fulvestrant decreased HDM2 levels and enhanced the sensitivity of these cells to chemotherapy. This enhancement was better than either fulvestrant or chemotherapy alone.

Source: Univeristy of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey (Cancer Institute of New Jersey)