A potential new therapy for chemotherapy-resistant breast cancers has been discovered by Irish scientists.
The study, led by researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) University of Medicine and Health Sciences, shows that they have discovered a molecule that can kill cells of a hard-to-treat subtype of breast cancer, which could lead to a new therapy.
Triple-negative breast cancer is a subtype of breast cancer which is mainly treated with chemotherapy.
Up to 70% of patients with this form of breast cancer develop resistance to treatment.
The researchers found that a specific molecule, BAS-2, was able to selectively kill the cells of this type of breast cancer while sparing normal cells.
Dr Tríona Ní Chonghaile, the study’s corresponding author and an RCSI lecturer in Physiology and Medical Physics, said, “Our aim now is to develop the small molecule into a more drug-like compound and to assess if we can harness the new function for potentially improved treatment of patients.”
For the first time, researchers were able to confirm that the enzyme HDAC6 plays a key role in altering energy in these cancer cells.
In addition to those from RCSI, the work was carried out by researchers from the UCD Conway Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences, NYU Langone Medical Center, Penn State University, the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School.
The researchers have submitted a patent around this work and are currently seeking industry partners to further develop this treatment.