Researchers tackle cancer stem cells to counter triple-negative breast cancer
Nearly one out of five breast cancer patients has triple-negative breast cancer — an aggressive type of tumor that often returns despite treatment. This cancer can defy conventional therapy, and breast cancer stem cells may be to blame, explains City of Hope’s George Somlo, M.D., F.A.C.P. in this video.
Somlo, co-director of City of Hope’s Breast Cancer Program, says that successful, modern therapies like Herceptin target receptors found on the surface of most breast cancer cells. But triple-negative breast cancers have none of those receptors. They can resist other drug treatments, too, because their cells appear to act like cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells can survive chemotherapy and radiation and then spread to other parts of the body.
But Somlo has joined with researchers at Stanford University to go after these stem cells. With major funding from the National Institutes of Health, the scientists are looking at triple-negative breast cancers in different ethnic groups and studying the characteristics of these cells. By understanding how the cells are different from other cancer cells and healthy breast cells, they hope to find pathways that are critical to the cells’ survival. Once they find those pathways, they can test drugs to block them.
Interested in learning more about the future of treatment for triple-negative breast cancer? Medical oncologist Thehang Luu, M.D., recently answered a few questions in City of Hope’s eHope newsletter about treatment directions for triple-negative breast cancer. For more about breast cancer clinical trials at City of Hope, visit Clinical Trials On-Line and select breast cancer from the menu.