Scientist Identified Gene That Drives Aggressive Type of Breast Cancer

A group of investigators have discovered a gene that drives one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer. They trust that by discovering a way to block the gene they may be capable to make the cancer less aggressive.stem-cells

In their research, presented in Nature Communications, the investigators identified that the gene identified as “inhibitor of differentiation 4” (ID4) not only signifies a highly aggressive type of triple-negative breast cancer but also seems to be to control it.

Project head Dr. Alex Swarbrick stated “We recognized that ID4 is developed at greater levels in approximately half of all triple-negative breast cancers, and that these cancers have a specifically weak prognosis.” says. “We also confirmed that if you halt the ID4 gene in experimental models of triple negative breast cancer, the tumor cells end dividing.”

Triple negative breast cancers are breast cancers that lack estrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors. Breast cancers that have these receptors can be aimed by medication.

About 15% of all breast cancer cases are triple-negative breast cancers. Sufferers that develop them commonly have a greater risk of recurrence and shorter survival than sufferers with other types of breast cancer.

There seems to be a division among sufferers with triple-negative breast cancer; some sufferers succumb to the disease within 3-5 years while others can survive disease-free for considerably longer than many non-triple-negative breast cancer sufferers.

The scientists identified a likely explanation for this difference in survival prospects – there are two different types of triple-negative breast cancer, appearing to develop from different cell types.

While the more benign type of triple-negative breast cancer seems to develop from specific cells, the team identified that the aggressive type of the disease appears to originate from stem cells.

Could obstructing ID4 make aggressive types of breast cancer react to tamoxifen?

Stem cells have the potential to develop into a wide range of different cell kinds in the body, and in a lot of bodily tissues they split to replenish other cells, offering the body with a type of internal repair. The way in which stem cells are flexible and can distribute into other tissues is identical to the way that many cancers operate.

Earlier study has proven that breast stem cells are a important part of breast development and growth during both puberty and pregnancy. The new research has now confirmed that ID4 is accountable for determining whether these stem cells develop into specialized cells or not.

When ID4 is obstructed in a stem cell, other genes that drive cell specialization are turned on. In addition, the estrogen receptor and a number of other genes indicated by forms of breast cancer with better prognoses are also triggered.

“Estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers have a comparatively good prognosis because the drug tamoxifen is very successful at obstructing the estrogen receptor and therefore their growth,” explains Dr. Swarbrick.

“We speculate, therefore, that by blocking ID4 it might be possible to turn stem-cell-like breast cancers into less aggressive breast cancers that may even respond to tamoxifen. If we are right, that would be outstanding.”

Following their discovery, the team will now investigate ID4 in order to work out the best strategy for blocking it in humans. They are also setting up a mouse research to evaluate whether preventing ID4 can make tumors vulnerable to tamoxifen.

“We don’t know yet whether we are seeing a real estrogen-dependent cancer after ID4 is blocked – one with an effective estrogen receptor – or just a caricature of one,” states Dr. Swarbrick.

The team will be working in alliance with a world expert on estrogen receptor function and studying these biochemical procedures on a genome-wide scale as they try to fully understand the role that ID4 could play in the growth and treatment of breast cancer.