According to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at Northwestern University have identified a biomarker strongly linked to basal-like breast cancer, a type of cancer that is resistant to various types of chemotherapy.
The biomarker is signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), a protein that has been previously identified and known to be overactive in numerous breast cancers.
Curt M. Horvath, PhD, of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences in Evanston, IL, and Robert W. Tell, PhD, of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, analyzed data from patients with luminal and basal-like breast cancers taken from the Cancer Genome Atlas. They found that certain genes were activated by STAT3 in basal-like breast cancers only.
Based on the results, Dr. Horvath says that a clinical study should be conducted to test a drug that inhibits the STAT3 protein from signaling cancer growth in patients with luminal and basal-like breast cancers; however, there are currently no available drugs that inhibit STAT3.
Basal-like breast carcinomas are highly aggressive and resistant to treatment because they are "triple-negative" tumors. They do not express estrogen or progesterone receptors or HER2 proteins. These types of cancer tend to have a high rate of mortality.
Two Northwestern University scientists have identified a biomarker strongly associated with basal-like breast cancer, a highly aggressive carcinoma that is resistant to many types of chemotherapy.
The biomarker, a protein called STAT3, provides a smart target for new therapeutics designed to treat this often deadly cancer.
Using breast cancer patient data taken from The Cancer Genome Atlas, molecular biologists Curt M. Horvath and Robert W. Tell used powerful computational and bioinformatics techniques to detect patterns of gene expression in two cancer subtypes. They found that a small number of genes are activated by STAT3 protein signaling in basal-like breast cancers but not in luminal breast cancers.