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Signaling pathway linked to inflammatory breast cancer may drive disease metastasis
Date:11/13/2011

SAN FRANCISCO Amplification of anaplastic lymphoma kinase, which has been reported in other cancers such as non-small cell lung cancers, may be a primary driver of the rapid metastasis that patients with inflammatory breast cancer experience.

If validated, the use of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitors may be a new treatment approach for patients with this lethal form of breast cancer.

These data were presented at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference: Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics, held Nov. 12-16, 2011.

"A diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer carries with it a very low five-year survival rate of about 40 percent, clearly indicating the critical need for an understanding of the molecular basis of the disease," said Fredika M. Robertson, Ph.D., professor in the department of experimental therapeutics at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and a member of the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program. "However, there are few molecules that have been identified that are matched with available targeted therapies of clinical benefit in patients with inflammatory breast cancer."

Robertson and colleagues used patient-derived tumors, tumor cell lines and animal models to evaluate protein-signaling pathways and genetic abnormalities with the goal of identifying molecules that may be associated with the increased metastases of inflammatory breast cancer. They discovered ALK amplification in 13 of 15 tumor samples taken from patients with this lethal variant of breast cancer. They then validated the presence of this abnormality in tumor cell lines and newly developed xenograft models.

Gene amplification of ALK is only found in about 2 percent of the overall breast cancer population, according to Robertson. However, results from this analysis indicate that in inflammatory breast cancer, it could be occurring in up to 86 percent of patients.

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Contact: Jeremy Moore
Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org
215-446-7109
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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