Breast Cancer Research Could Expand Lung Cancer Therapies

New research into a genetic mutation’s role in breast cancer could open new treatment options for lung cancer, according to a Michigan State University scientist. “They sequenced the whole genome of breast cancer samples and find a driving mutation that hasn’t recognized as important in lung cancer before,” said Eran Andrechek, a College of Human Medicine physiology professor. “This mutation has clear potential to identify lung cancer patients who should be receiving targeted therapy that’s already approved by the FDA.”

Breast cancer is an extremely prevalent disease; so with an estimated one in eight women experiencing the disease in her life. Owing to its prevalence, it represents a huge public health concern. A hallmark of the breast cancer is its heterogeneity. Heterogeneity in human breast cancer is present in genomic events, gene expression, metastatic potential, and treatment response.

Lung cancer tumors

Clinically, breast cancer has been classified on the status of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR); so human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), as well as proliferative markers such as Ki67. However, with the advancement of transcriptomics; also the advent of DNA microarray technology breast cancers began to be profiled on their global genomic profile. Base upon hierarchical clustering of breast cancer patients five sub types were identify Luminal A, Luminal B, Basal, HER2 positive, and normal-like.

Using lab mice and computational analysis of sequenced genes; they learn that a mutation present but apparently not consequential in breast cancer; which turns out to inhibit growth of certain human lung cancer tumors. About 5% of lung cancer cases carry this mutation, he said. That works out to some 11,000 people in the United States alone who could gain precious time from the most vicious of major cancers. “It’s not a cure,” he cautioned. “It has the potential to extend life span and increase quality of life for the patients.”

Human breast cancer

Andrechek and his team also find a number of genes that were amplified in human breast cancer and using CRISPR gene-editing technology, was able to stop cancer cells from spreading. “When they use CRISPR to knockout two of these genes, they block migration and metastasis of the tumors,” Andrechek said. “In humans, we would do a drug screen to find FDA-approve drugs that would target the genes and block them.” Breast cancer is the most common among women, as prostate cancer is among men.

But with improve screening for those cancers, at least in the develop world; so lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined, according to the American Cancer Society. Overall, one in 15 men and one in 17 women will develop it in their lifetimes, with smokers at higher risk. Andrechek said his next step is to better describe and manipulate; so the mutation’s effect on the protein that regulates cancer tumor growth, before any human clinical trials begin. He’s also working with another MSU laboratory to secure; so grant funding to apply the findings once again to breast cancer research.