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UCLA scientists find cell pathway driving a deadly sub-type of breast cancer
Date:11/14/2008

Receptor positive cancers. These patients have several drugs available, such as Tamoxifen, that suppress the actions of estrogen on breast cancer tissue and thus control the disease.

Next up, Lane and his team plan to use protein chemistry and genetic tools to uncover the molecular components that participate in this new proteasome targeting complex, which could identify alterations like HER-2 - that can be targeted in cancer cells and leave the healthy cells alone. That would give patients with this aggressive cancer sub-type a more effective and less toxic option than chemotherapy.

"This research has the potential to identify clinically relevant markers of a large subgroup of human breast cancer and find a novel therapeutic target that could be exploited with appropriate pharmaceutical agents," said Lane, who is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology. "We need a new paradigm to think about how to treat these cancers."

Lane's research also showed that basal-like breast cancer cells are most like breast stem cells, which generate the tissues of the breast. One way they're alike is that they are resistant to chemotherapy and do not express mature breast markers like estrogen receptor. These features make basal-like breast cancers so difficult to treat.

Another mystery Lane and his team hope to focus on is why basal-like breast cancers are over-represented in African American women. It could be related to genetic features in the patient, or to other complex factors such as access to effective early intervention, Lane said.

Lane is currently working to validate his work in human disease and identify all the key players in this molecular pathway.

"We're still missing a couple of the key players. We currently understand the shape and general features of the complex, but hope to find all the components in the next couple of years," Lane said. "It is a great time to be involved in this research."
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2804
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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