Potential Target Found for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Treatment

Research examines long non-coding RNAs as biomarkers and therapeutic targets.

Researchers may have found a key component to develop a targeted drug that can treat triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in a recent study.

TNBC is an aggressive form of breast cancer that is difficult to treat and has the potential to reoccur and spread. Of all diagnosed breast cancers, TNBC occurs in about 10 to 20% of patients.

"Triple-negative breast cancer continues to be a severe health problem, demanding the consideration of emerging long non-coding RNAs as biomarkers and therapeutic targets in combatting this disease," said study co-author Liquing Yang, PhD.

The study, which was performed by scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, looked at data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) that studied genomic changes in more than 20 different cancers.

The results of the study, which were published in Nature Cell Biology, showed that molecular non-coding RNAs (IncRNA), also known as LINK-A, activates HIF-1 signaling in TNBC. HIF-1, which has been shown to regulate breast cancer progression, is a signaling pathway that is overexpressed in numerous cancers.

"The LINK-A dependent HIF1 signalizing cascade and the consequent effects on cancer cells implicate LINK-A and LINK-A interacting kinases and receptors as promising therapeutic targets for TNBC," Yang said.

Co-author Chunru Lin, PhD, was able to confirm 4 sites for phosphorylation during the study, which are able to impact key cellular functions by turning protein enzymes on and off.

"Our study identified four previously unknown phosphorylation sites in a LINK-A regulated signaling pathway," Lin said. "These events predict a worse outcome in TNBC patients suggesting that the LINK-A pathway plays a critical role in this disease and may provide wide-ranging therapeutic treatment targets."