Marker Provides Possible Treatment for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Researchers predict the progression of the cancer based on its expression of IL13RA2.

Researchers predict the progression of the cancer based on its expression of IL13RA2.

Scientists have identified a marker for triple-negative breast cancer, which may lead to future treatment options.

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) isolated a molecule found in high volume for Basal-like breast cancer (BLBC). The scientists compared BLBC cells to other breast cancer cells and found that metastatic BLBC cells had a much higher expression of IL13RA2 (IL13R alpha2) than normal breast cancer cells.

Researchers found that they could predict the progression of the cancer based on its expression of IL13RA2. They also found that cells with higher volumes of IL13RA2 were more likely to spread to the lungs.

When IL13RA2 was reduced, tumor growth slowed significantly and there was much less spread to the lungs.

This marker makes drug production possible for metastatic BLBC in the near future, the study noted. BLBC, referred to as triple-negative breast cancer, is unresponsive to many traditional treatments, is much more likely to metastasize, and has a poor prognosis once diagnosed.

In addition to creating a treatment for metastatic BLBC, IL13RA2 has been identified in other forms of deadly cancers, such as brain, pancreatic, ovarian, and colon.

"Studies directed at this biomarker will be of high significance to improve the quality of life of all cancer patients harboring this alteration," said Sam Thiagalingam, PhD, associate professor of genetics and genomics, medicine and pathology, and laboratory medicine at BUSM.

The scientists hope to continue their work with IL13RA2 to identify other molecules that may play a key role in the development of breast cancers.

This study was published online in Breast Cancer Research.