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Some breast cancer tumors hijack patient epigenetic machinery to evade drug therapy

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Posted March 27, 2014
Some breast cancer tumors hijack patient epigenetic machinery to evade drug therapy
This image shows HOXC10 expression in a primary breast cancer tumor. Brown is HOXC10 and blue/purple is a counterstaining to show the cell, especially the nucleus of the cell. Credit: UPCI
A breast cancer therapy that blocks estrogen synthesis to activate cancer-killing genes sometimes loses its effectiveness because the cancer takes over epigenetic mechanisms, including permanent DNA modifications in the patient’s tumor, once again allowing tumor growth, according to an international team headed by the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI).

The finding warrants research into adding drugs that could prevent the cancer from hijacking patients’ repressive gene regulatory machinery, which might allow the original therapy to work long enough to eradicate the tumor, the researchers report in their National Institutes of Health-funded study, published in the current issue ofScience Translational Medicine.

“Our discovery is particularly notable as we enter the era of personalized medicine,” said senior author Steffi Oesterreich, Ph.D., professor in Pitt’s Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology and at UPCI, a partner with UPMC CancerCenter, and director of education at the Women’s Cancer Research Center.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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