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Breast cancer-limiting protein found

Wednesday March 23rd 2022

A newly-found protein may limit the growth of oestrogen receptor-negative breast cancer, Swedish researchers have announced.

Breast cancer can be grouped on the presence or absence of the oestrogen receptor, and currently there are hormonal therapies which are relatively effective for oestrogen receptor-positive tumours.

However, Professor Per Uhlen of Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, and colleagues, report in *Nature Communications* yesterday that fewer treatment options are available for oestrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.

"Particularly," they add, "for so-called triple-negative breast cancers, which are negative not only for oestrogen receptor but also for the progesterone receptor and HER2 receptor".

They focused on the molecular mechanism called Notch signalling, which appears to be hyperactivated in patients with poor outcomes.

"Crosstalk between oestrogen signalling and Notch signalling has been reported," they explain, and an "as yet unknown mechanism increases Notch activity".

In tests on oestrogen receptor-negative breast cancer patients they found that increased expression of 'G protein-coupled receptor kinase-interacting protein 1', or GIT1, was linked to relapse-free survival.

GIT1 appears to reduce Notch signalling, and the authors state: "These results identify GIT1 as a modulator of Notch signalling and a guardian against breast cancer growth."

Professor Uhlen commented: “Identification of new molecular mechanisms that regulate the growth of oestrogen receptor-negative breast cancer is warranted, as these mechanisms may represent novel therapeutic targets.

“Our results provide important information about a mechanism that controls the initiation and growth of breast tumours. We hope that these findings will inform the development of new therapies for patients with difficult-to-treat breast cancer."

Zhang, S. et al. GIT1 protects against breast cancer growth through negative regulation of Notch. *Nature Communications* 22 March 2022; doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28631-y

[abstract]

Tags: Cancer | Europe | Genetics | Pharmaceuticals | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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