publication date: Dec. 4, 2020
UVA researchers identify gene responsible for metastasis of TNBC
University of Virginia Cancer Center researchers have identified a gene responsible for the spread of triple-negative breast cancer to other parts of the body, and developed a potential way to stop it.
UVA’s Sanchita Bhatnagar and her team found that the breast cancer oncogene TRIM37 causes cancer to spread and makes it resistant to chemotherapy. A new approach she and her colleagues have developed could possibly address both.
The researchers have published their findings in Cancer Research.
“Despite metastasis being the key reason for failure of cancer therapies, it remains poorly understood. We do not clearly understand what drives the metastatic growth in patients,” Bhatnagar, who was the first to identify TRIM37 as a breast cancer oncogene, said in a statement. “In general, several genes are altered during tumorigenesis. However, whether targeting the same genes will prevent metastatic transition remains to be addressed.”
Promising research from Bhatnagar’s team shows that targeting TRIM37 prevents metastatic lesions in mouse models. Those findings form the foundation of her lab’s current work exploring the role of TRIM37 in racial disparities in triple negative breast cancer. Incidence of the disease is disproportionately higher in African-American women compared with other races, with a five-year survival rate in African-American patients of only 14% compared with 36% in non-African-American women.
Bhatnagar and UVA’s Jogender Tushir-Singh have developed a new approach to stop the effects of TRIM37 and, hopefully, prevent or significantly delay the spread of triple-negative breast cancer. This could also lower the disease’s defenses against chemotherapy.
Blocking the gene could benefit approximately 80% of triple negative breast cancer patients, the researchers estimate.
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