Preventing chemotherapy resistance in triple negative breast cancer

Background: Breast cancers that lack the three molecules used to classify breast cancers; the oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), are described as triple negative breast cancers. Approximately 15 per cent of all breast cancers are triple negative. Triple negative cancers tend to be aggressive and are likely to spread. Drugs commonly used to treat other types of breast cancer are not effective against triple negative cancers leaving patients with fewer treatment options. Many women presenting with TNBC are resistant to standard chemotherapy and there is a critical need to identify drugs that specifically target this specific type of breast cancer.
Aim: The aim of this project is to investigate how triple negative cancers resist standard chemotherapy. We have identified a novel pathway that is important in cell survival that may aid triple negative cancer cells resist chemotherapy. In this project we will test the importance of this pathway in allowing cancer cells maintain viability when treated with chemotherapy and importantly, will investigate using laboratory based experiments how we can inhibit this pathway to restore tumour sensitivity to drug treatment resulting in cancer cell death.
Patient benefit: This research holds great potential for the development of an improved therapy for patients with TNBC as it may allow the development of new drugs that are designed to treat this specific type of breast cancer. Furthermore it has the potential to contribute to a better understanding of the many ways in which a cancer cell can become resistant to drug therapy and therefore could lead to the development of new drugs that are specifically designed to treat the 15% of women who present with this aggressive type of cancer annually in Ireland (300/2600 www.ncri.ie).

Award Date
20 June 2014
Award Value
€329,995
Principal Investigator
Dr Madeline Murphy
Host Institution
University College Dublin
Scheme
Health Research Awards