Breast Cancer
2:31 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Wash U. Research Findings Could Be Good News To Some Breast Cancer Patients

The findings of new breast cancer research from Washington University could result in effective treatment for 4,000 additional patients in the United States each year. Scientists made the discovery after analyzing DNA sequencing data from 1,500 patients.

The research appears in the latest edition of Cancer Discovery.

So what does this research mean?

  • Patients with a form of breast cancer called HER-2 are treated with a drug that inhibits the function of the HER-2 protein.
  • But patients with another form called HER-2 negative are not, because researchers thought it ineffective.
  • Wash U Professor of Medicine, Dr. Matthew Ellis and colleagues have found a new way the HER-2 gene gets activated, by changing the sequence of the protein in the cancer cell.
  • The subtle changes make the protein sensitive to drugs.

"The nice thing is that there is already an existing drug that we can use that in our studies looked like it should be highly potent against these patients," Ellis says. Ellis says a clinical trial has just been activated to treat patients with this form of breast cancer. Follow Julie Bierach on Twitter: @jbierach