Breast cancer tumors have been shown to possess a population of cells called stem cells that are relatively resistant to both radiation and chemotherapy and are capable of self-renewal. It has been suggested that these breast cancer stem cells drive tumor formationmetastasisand breast cancer recurrence. New breast cancer research shows a potential link between breast cancer stem cells and inflammationa process linked to many human chronic diseases.
In this new studyresearchers demonstrated that the breast cancer stem cells contain a receptor called CXCR1which responds to a protein (IL-8) produced during inflammation. The study investigators tested the effect of blocking this receptor on breast cancer stem cell growth and tumor formation. While the full research paper is freely availablesome of the results are outlined below
Treatment of breast cancer cells in culture with the drug repertaxin successfully decreased the population of breast cancer stem cells.
Only cells with the CXCR1 receptor were killed suggesting that the drug repertaxin can specifically target the breast cancer stem cells.
Treatment of mice with transplanted breast cancer tumors with repertaxin and repertaxin + chemotherapy reduced tumor growth.
Treatment of transplanted breast cancer tumors with chemotherapy alone had no effect or increased the population of breast cancer stem cells.
Treatment of transplanted tumors with repertaxin alone or repertaxin + chemotherapy substantially reduced the breast cancer stem cell population.
These are truly excitingthough earlyresults. If breast cancer stem cells are as vital as many scientists believethis research offers an important opportunity to specifically target and kill these cells. Killing these breast cancer stem cells has the potential to increase the chances of other breast cancer therapies to successfully treat breast cancerdecrease recurrenceand improve survival. Should additional animal research continue to show the effectiveness and safety of this or similar drugsit won't be suprising to see human clinical trials in the near future.
While science continues to make great strides in the treatment of breast cancerdon't forget that making healthy lifestyle choices can help to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. My bookFight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer (www.fightBCnow.com)discusses many simple diet and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your personal breast cancer risk.