Chemo-resistant proteins mark defiant breast tumors

In estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, one approach to treatment is chemotherapy given before surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy), but some tumors are resistant to these drugs. Hull University (U.K.) researchers have found some biomarkers that could pick out those women who might or might not respond, allowing treatment to be tailored specifically to their needs.

The team compared the proteins in chemotherapy-sensitive and chemotherapy-resistant breast cancer samples, including samples from women with tumors resistant to common treatments like epirubicin and docetaxel, and found a number of proteins that were expressed at higher or lower levels in the different forms of the cancer. Some proteins belonged to the same group, the 14-3-3 protein family.

The next step is to carry out clinical studies to confirm the role of these proteins as possible markers of chemotherapy response, which could allow women with resistant disease to avoid ineffective treatment, and help those with either chemotherapy-sensitive or -resistant cancers to get onto the right treatments as quickly as possible

Lead researcher Dr. Lynn Cawkwell, says: "If we're correct, we hope that by testing for these proteins, doctors will be able to anticipate a patient's response to different chemotherapies, and decide which course of treatment is most appropriate for them."

- read the press release
- see the abstract in the Journal of Proteomics