Triple-negative breast cancer is unique in that it lacks three common receptors in the cell estrogen, progesterone or human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2), which are the targets of drugs widely used today to treat breast cancer. As a result, this cancer can be very difficult to treat; it doesn't respond to therapies that target estrogen and progesterone receptors, such as tamoxifen (Nolvadex), fulvestrant (Faslodex) and aromatase inhibitors (Femara, Arimidex and Aromasin), or to HER2-targeted therapies such as trastuzumab (Herceptin) and lapatinib (Tykerb).
About 15 to 20 percent of breast cancers are triple-negative. For unknown reasons, there is a higher prevalence of this type of breast cancer among African-Americans, young women and women with the BRCA1 gene mutation. African-American women are twice as likely as white women to have this type of cancer, which can be very aggressive and spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver and brain.
The clinical trial is based on laboratory studies by Dr. Brodie, a professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, and Gauri J. Sabnis, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, in collaboration with Saraswati Sukumar, M.S., Ph.D., a professor of oncology and pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Their research showed that entinostat can sensitize triple-negative breast cancer cells to treatment with an aromatase inhibitor, and when combined with an aromatase inhibitor, also reduce the growth and spread of tumors in animal models.
"Adding to her long list of remarkable achievements, Dr. Brodie has continued her research into aromatase inhibitors, searching for ways to overcome tumors' resistance to treatment," says E. Alb
|Contact: Karen E. Warmkessel|
University of Maryland Medical Center