(Sioux Falls, SD) – Researchers affiliated with the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research were recently recognized for their insights about a particularly lethal form of breast cancer.
In an article featured on the cover, and highlighted in the November edition of the scientific journal, Current Drug Targets, lead author Nandini Dey, PhD, and Brian Leyland-Jones, MB BS, PhD, director of Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research, explore the difficulties that have limited effective treatment options for patients with basal-like and triple negative breast cancers. Within this comprehensive analysis, the authors also identify promising opportunities to outsmart the elusive disease.
“Triple negative breast cancer is an incorrigible disease that outsmarts all our conventional forms of therapy,” said Dey. “We believe the strategy needs to shift toward using combinations of targeted drugs that hit multiple points in the cancer cell’s internal wiring. It’s unlikely that any single therapy will be adequate on its own.”
Triple-negative breast cancer, which accounts for about 12 to 24 percent of all breast cancer cases, is an umbrella term for a group of highly aggressive subtypes that are most common in younger women and African Americans. These subtypes, many of which are also categorized as basal-like, are defined by the absence of receptors for estrogen and progesterone, as well as by the absence of overactive human epidermal growth factor receptors, which drive a majority of breast cancers. The lack of any of these distinct and targetable genetic aberrations is the key reason that basal-like and triple negative breast cancers are so hard to treat.
In spite of these challenges, Dey says the outlook is getting brighter. In particular, she points to the use of existing and emerging agents that, when used in the right combinations according to each patient’s individual genetic makeup, have the potential to effectively combat basal-like and triple negative breast cancers. The idea behind this approach is that the drugs will work together to damage a tumor cell’s DNA beyond repair, while simultaneously blocking the cellular pathways it needs to survive, and ultimately force it into apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
The research team at Edith Sanford is now looking ahead to validate such novel drug combinations through clinical testing conducted at their facilities.
“Our approach will utilize genomic sequencing to identify subpopulations and ensure patients receive the right combination in the right dose for their specific subtype,” explained Leyland-Jones. “Edith Sanford will continue fueling the momentum toward better, smarter and gene-based ways to personalize treatment for all women.”
Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research is supported by the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating breast cancer through genomic and translational research. Thanks to a transformational gift that launched the Foundation in 2011 and will catalyze its future growth, Edith Sanford is able to commit 100 percent of every contribution to its research program.
About the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation
The Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation is pioneering a bold new comprehensive approach to breast cancer, with a mission to unlock each woman's genetic code, advance today's prevention and treatment, and end breast cancer for future generations. Edith Sanford Breast Cancer is pursuing cutting-edge translational genomic research to identify specific treatments that will work best for each person, prevent the disease on an individual basis, and ultimately eradicate breast cancer. To accelerate the research and advances in care, a cornerstone of this ground-breaking organization is our biobank – a shared collection of genetic information from people of all ages, medical histories and backgrounds – that provides researchers easy access to data.
The launch of this movement began with a gift from Denny Sanford, who tragically lost his mother, Edith, to breast cancer when he was just four years old. For more information about the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation, visit edithsanford.org or call 1-855-GO-EDITH (463-3484).
About Sanford Health
Sanford Health is the patient care and research partner of the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation, and the largest rural, nonprofit health care system in the nation with locations in 126 communities, in eight states. In addition, this dynamic integrated health system is now developing international clinics in Ireland, Ghana, Israel and Mexico.
Sanford Health has been in service for more than 100 years and includes 35 hospitals, 140 clinic locations and nearly 1200 physicians in 70 specialty areas of medicine. With more than 25,000 employees, Sanford Health is the largest employer in North and South Dakota.