New research raises the prospect that some cancer patients with aggressive tumors may benefit from a class of anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Studying triple-negative breast cancer, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that some aggressive tumors rely on an antiviral pathway that appears to drive inflammation, widely recognized for roles in cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
The tumors that activate this particular antiviral pathway always have dysfunctional forms of the proteins p53 and ARF, both encoded by genes known for being highly mutated in various cancers. The investigators found that the two genes compensate for each other. If both are mutated, the tumors that form are more aggressive than if only one of these genes is lost.
When both genes are lost and the antiviral pathway is activated, patients may benefit from a class of anti-inflammatory drugs called JAK inhibitors, currently prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis.
The investigators report their findings in a recent issue of the journal Cell Reports.
Until now, even though ARF was known to be expressed in some tumors with mutated p53, ARF largely was thought to be nonfunctional in this scenario. But the investigators showed that in the absence of p53, ARF actually protects against even more aggressive tumor formation.
"It's probably inaccurate to say that ARF completely replaces p53, which is a robust tumor suppressor with multiple ways of working," said senior author Jason D. Weber, PhD, associate professor of medicine. "But it appears the cell has set up a sort of backup system with ARF. It's not surprising that these are the two most highly mutated tumor suppressors in cancer. Because they're backing one another up, the most aggressive tumors form when you lose both."
Weber and his colleagues studied triple-negative breast cancer bec
|Contact: Julia Evangelou Strait|
Washington University School of Medicine