Promising findings from new research might help fight an aggressive form of breast cancer

"It's like a missile and it goes and finds its target," said a researcher.

Denise Dador Image
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Promising findings might help fight aggressive forms of breast cancer
Aggressive forms of breast cancer, such as triple negative breast cancer, can be tough to survive if they're not caught early. Now, two new findings may help improve the odds.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Aggressive forms of breast cancer such as triple negative breast cancer can be tough to survive if it's not caught early.

But now, we're learning more about two new findings that may help improve the odds for triple negative, and other forms of breast cancer.

Eyewitness News spoke with Lynette Dawson. Her battle with breast cancer started in July 2018.

"The doctors examined both my breasts and felt a lump on my left," Dawson said.

She was diagnosed with HER-2 cancer, a form that's hormonally driven.

It responded to surgery, chemo and radiation, but other types, such as triple negative breast cancer, have no hormone receptors and are very hard to treat.

Professor Ratna Vadlmudi, a researcher with UT Health San Antonio, explained the stark statistics when it comes to triple negative breast cancer.

"I think if it's a grade two or grade three, 50% of them will not survive within five years," Vadlmudi said.

Vadlmudi and his team tested 30,000 genes to find one to stop triple negative.

"What we found is ERX-41 binds to a new therapeutic target that is LipA," he said.

Once ERX-41 binds to the LipA gene, then the cancer senses defective cells and dies off.

"It's like a missile and it goes and finds its target," said Vadlamudi.

It's an important finding for women who battle aggressive forms of breast cancer.

Another research discovery is helping scientists understand metastasis.

"A lot of women who have HER2-positive breast cancer will develop during the course of their metastatic disease brain metastasis," said Dr. Sara Hurvitz with UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Metastasis happens when circulating cancer cells break away from the original tumor and travel via blood vessels.

Until now, doctors thought this happened around the clock.

Now, Swiss researchers found cells break away mainly during sleep and they tend to divide more quickly compared to those that exit in the daytime.

Researchers say knowing this could help influence when treatment is given and open the doors to finding ways to control the exiting cells.

These two new findings will help breast cancer patients like Dawson, and may lead to treatments for other cancers.

In fact, when it comes to ERX-41, researchers say in animal studies, it knocked down the cancer in 60 days.

The compound is likely to be effective against other lethal cancers like pancreatic, ovarian and glioblastoma.

Researchers expect human clinical trials to begin next year.