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New HER2+ Breast Cancer Gene Discovered

Posted Aug 06 2010 6:50am
HER2+ breast cancers are breast cancers that over-express Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2, a receptor that aids in the growth of breast cancers.  HER2+ breast cancers, which occur in about 20% of breast cancer cases on average, are typically more aggressive resulting in poorer outcomes.  Fortunately, HER2+ breast cancers can be effectively treated with targeted breast cancer treatments using drugs such as trastuzumab and lapatinib.  However, not all breast cancer patients respond well to these treatments and others develop a resistance to these breast cancer treatments, making the development of additional treatments important.

Many invasive breast cancers, including HER2+ breast cancers, are known to over-express a protein called C35; however, little research has been done on this protein and its function is unclear.  Research presented in the July issue of the British Journal of Cancer explored the relationship of this C35 protein with HER2+ breast cancer development .  For this breast cancer research study, the investigators examined the link between HER2 expression and C35 levels in 122 breast cancer tissue samples.  They then examined characteristics of breast cancer cells over-expressing the C35 protein using cell culture systems.  The results of these studies showed that
  • A high level of C35 production was associated with increased expression of HER2 in breast cancer tissue samples.
  • Cells producing high levels of the C35 protein were linked to defining characteristics of breast cancer cell formation including the ability of cells to form colonies, invade, and form 3-dimensional structures.
  • These C35 over-producing cells also were linked to the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, an important component of breast cancer formation and metastasis.
Based on these early studies, it appears that the C35 protein is heavily involved in the formation and metastasis of HER2+ breast cancers. This makes the C35 gene and protein potentially important targets for the development of new breast cancer treatments for HER2+ breast cancers.  According to a r elated press release , drugs that interfere either with the C35 production or function are already in development.  Therefore, it is likely that human trials of these drugs in HER2+ breast cancer patients will be conducted in the very near future to test their safety and effectiveness.  Hopefully, this research will quickly lead to the development of new, targeted breast cancer treatments for HER2+ breast cancer patients.

The development of new breast cancer treatments are a vital part of our fight against breast cancer.  So are diet and lifestyle changes that can help reduce the risk of ever getting breast cancer.  To learn more, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer .
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