Breast cancer protein pinpoints survival chances

The outcomes for basal-like breast cancer and triple-negative breast cancer are not good, but a biomarker, calpain-2, found by researchers at the University of Nottingham could help to predict women's survival and tailor treatment. Calpain-2 could also be a potential new target for drug development, alone or in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Triple-negative breast cancer--cancer that does not have receptors for estrogen (ER), progesterone (PR) or human epidermal growth factor (HER2)--and basal-like breast cancer are subgroups of breast cancers that are notoriously aggressive and are more likely to spread, with poor outcomes.

The researchers looked at tissue samples, following patients up for 10 years, and found that higher levels of the protein calpain-2 signposted shorter survival times in these patients.

Stewart Martin, associate professor at the University of Nottingham, said: "Further verification of the results is needed before we take these findings to the next stage but with further funding we hope to see a test that could aid prognosis in as little as 5-10 years. In the longer term we would hope to develop new treatments for these forms of the disease."

The research was funded by the Breast Cancer Campaign, and was published in the Annals of Oncology.

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