This week I would like to talk to you about a drug that could be able to stop the metastasis of a type of breast cancer, triple negative or basal type. Tumor subtype that represents between 10-20% of all cases of breast cancer … KEEP READING!
What is triple negative breast cancer?
It is that type of breast cancer in which cancer cells do not express estrogen receptors, prostanglandin receptors, or HER2 / Neu receptors on their external surface.
Estrogens and porstanglandins are hormones. These are produced in a certain place of the organism and to act on the rest of the cells of our body they must interact with their corresponding receptor.
Thus, they are able to trigger what is known as a signaling cascade, a sequence of events that ends with the effect of the hormone. If the tumor does not have these receptors, it means, therefore, that its growth is not stimulated by these hormones.
HER2 / Neu receptors, by contrast, are proteins that locate on the membrane of normal breast cells and help control how it grows, divides, and repairs itself. While in some types of breast cancer this receptor is overexpressed (the HER2 positive), in others, such as the triple negative, it is absent.
Consequently, these types of mammary tumors cannot be treated either with hormonal therapy, which is dedicated to slowing down the effect of hormones on the tumor, or with drugs that are dedicated to blocking the HER2 / Neu receptor. They are, in fact, breast tumors for which there is no specific treatment, which makes them the most aggressive in this group.
And what is metastasis?
It is the process by which tumor cells are able to “detach” from the tumor, and through blood or lymph, reach distant tissues in vivo, generating what are known as secondary tumors.
What drug are we talking about?
From zolendronic acid, a molecule capable of inhibiting the UGT8 enzyme. An enzyme, remember, is a protein that accelerates or allows a reaction to occur. Well, the UGT8 enzyme is involved, not only in the survival of tumor cells, which makes them more aggressive, but also in metastasis.
Why? This enzyme allows the production of extremely high amounts of sulphatide, which is responsible for “plugging in” the signaling pathways that lead to the metastasis and cell survival of this type of tumor. Therefore, it is easy to understand that secondary tumors have a higher expression of UGT8.
In other words, using this acid, it is possible to inhibit the UGT8 enzyme and therefore curb the metastatic potential of triple negative breast tumors.
And as I always say: for now it only remains to wait. This drug is still in the experimental phase, and has so far only been shown to be effective in mice. There is still a long process to validate this treatment as a viable therapeutic solution for triple negative breast cancer.