Turning a Bad-Hood Into a Good One

Triple negative breast cancer reduced with decorin

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Triple-negative cancer is a fast-growing, aggressive cancer that likes to strike young women and African-American women. Currently, there’s nothing for medicines to target with this cancer – but that could be changing.

A pre-clinical study of cells has shown that a protein called decorin boosts the body’s ability to stop the spread of triple negative breast cancer.

This may open a gateway for understanding and eventually treating this particularly mean disease.

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Researchers at Washington University conducted the study that led to this discovery.

“These findings provide a new paradigm for decorin, with great implications for curbing tumor growth by inducing new tumor suppressor genes within the tumor microenvironment, and for the discovery of novel gene signatures that could eventually help clinical assessment and prognosis,” said senior author Renato V. Iozzo, MD, professor of pathology, anatomy and cell biology, at Thomas Jefferson University.

Decorin is a protein that's involved in halting the growth of tumors. Strikingly, researchers found that this protein doesn’t do its magic within the tumor itself, rather in neighborhood where it lives.

The area surrounding the cancer is called the tumor microevironment and where cancerous cells can take off to grow and spread.

So decorin is a good guy that’s turning a bad neighborhood into a good one.

In addition, tumors treated with decorin shrank by up to 50 percent in 23 days. Along with this change in size, the investigators found the increased expression of 357 other genes – including three tumor suppressor genes.

“The results of this study in mice are what researchers would describe as "hypothesis-generating," Patrick D. Maguire, MD, a radiation oncologist in North Carolina, told dailyRx News in an email.

"The study is one small step toward understanding the interactions between [triple negative breast cancer] (TNBC) tumor cells and the microenvironment in which they exist,” said Dr. Maguire, who is author of When Cancer Hits Home: An Empowered Patient is the Best Weapon Against Cancer.

“It may guide future research into the biology of TNBC, an aggressive form of breast cancer that kills thousands of women each year, on the path toward a cure,” Dr. Maguire said.

The study was published September 19 in PLOS One.

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Review Date: 
September 19, 2012
Last Updated:
September 19, 2012