Prognosis Predictor may Become New Target

ER positive breast cancer patients with high HSF1 levels have poorer outcomes

(RxWiki News) After hearing the diagnosis, many cancer patients want to know the outlook. Scientists have discovered something that could help answer that question for most breast cancer patients.

The hormone estrogen drives the most common form of breast cancer. Whitehouse Institute researchers have learned that patients with estrogen receptor positive (ER+) cancer who have high levels of  "heat shock factor 1" (HSF1) tend to have poorer outcomes.

This protein may not only be used to predict breast cancer prognosis (outcome), but could potentially be a target for new life-extending therapies.

"HSF1 may become a new way to predict breast cancer outcomes."

Sandro Santagata, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Whitehead Institute Member Susan Lindquist, says  HSF1 status could be used to design individual treatment plans. 

To investigate the association, Santagata and researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and University of Miami examined HSF1 levels in breast cancer tissue samples from 1,841 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study.

They compared the HSF1 levels and outcomes of participants. Women with low levels of HSF1 fared better than patients with higher levels. 

Elevated HSF1 levels were seen in patients with larger and more aggressive tumors. 

HSF1 could also be the target of new therapeutic agents, says Santagata, who is an instructor in pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

This research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Review Date: 
November 3, 2011