IRISH SCIENTISTS HAVE found a potential way to treat one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.
Researchers from BREAST-PREDICT have shown that a new drug can help to prevent the growth of triple-negative breast cancer cells.
This type of cancer is often aggressive and difficult to treat. It tends to be more common in younger women.
If the new drug – APR-246 – is found to be effective at clinical trials it will have the potential to save lives.
More than 250 people are diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer each year in Ireland.
The type accounts for about one in six breast cancer cases globally.
The only form of drug treatment currently available for patients with this type of cancer is chemotherapy, which may not be effective for everyone.
The research was carried by PhD student Naoise Synnott, under the supervision of Professor Joe Duffy and Professor John Crown. It involved laboratory tests in combination with current chemotherapy treatments.
BREAST-PREDICT is an Irish Cancer Society Collaborative Cancer Research Centre.
The findings have recently been published in the International Journal of Cancer.
Commenting on the research, Naoise Synnott said that she decided to focus on triple-negative breast cancer for her research as it was clear that a lot of work needed to be done in the area.
“I decided to focus my BREAST-PREDICT research on triple-negative breast cancer because it was clear that work needed to be done to provide better and more targeted treatment for these patients,” she said.
I hope that the work of me and my colleagues in St Vincent’s and UCD will be a big step in providing better treatment and hope to future triple-negative breast cancer patients.
Outcomes for patients with breast cancer has improved significantly in recent years.
Survival rates have increased to 85%. This is partly due to newer more personalised treatments that help to target certain “biomarkers” which are detectable in most strains of the disease in patients.
However, triple-negative breast cancers lack these targets and so are more difficult to target.
The research by Synnott and her colleagues showed that the new drug can target a mutation of the gene that occurs in about 80% of these triple-negative breast cancers.
The drug acts by correcting or neutralising the mutated gene, which can stop the growth of the cancer.
Head of research at the Irish Cancer Society, Dr Robert O’Connor, hailed the development as a significant milestone in the ongoing work of BREAST-PREDICT.
For more information on the work of the Irish Cancer Society visit www.cancer.ie