Researchers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology along with collaborators from UAB and the Huntsman Cancer Institute have discovered a new gene signature regulated by a specific transcription factor - proteins that switch genes on and off - that is involved in regulating processes active in triple negative breast cancer.
The research was led by then graduate assistant Joy Agee McDaniel, PhD, who recently joined The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as a postdoctoral fellow. She and her colleagues discovered a new gene signature regulated by the transcription factor STAT3.
"We found that therapies that target STAT3 could prevent metastasis in triple negative breast cancer" McDaniel said. In metastasis, cancer cells break away from where they first formed, travel through the blood or lymph system, and form new tumors in other parts of the body.
Triple negative is one of the least treatable forms of breast cancer because it does not respond to hormonal therapies and is usually diagnosed at a later stage. McDaniel points out that while African American women have lower incidence of breast cancer diagnosis compared to white women, African American women have disproportionately lower survival rates from breast cancer.
"One out of every three breast cancer diagnoses in African American women is triple negative," McDaniel said. "I want to help more women survive this devastating form of breast cancer."
This research could lead to a new targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer, which currently has no therapies tailored to treat its specific genetic makeup..