Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Stem Cells, Cellular Therapy & Biobanking
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Experimental Drug Targets Chemo-Resistant Breast Cancer Stem Cells

Published: Monday, December 14, 2009
Last Updated: Monday, December 14, 2009
Bookmark and Share
The cells that remain after treatment that could potentially refuel tumor growth, researchers say.

In animal and patient studies, an experimental drug eliminated chemotherapy-resistant breast cancer stem cells – the cells that remain after treatment that could potentially refuel tumor growth, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

"In previous studies, we have identified a genetic pathway – called the Notch pathway – as a top target for eliminating these tumor-initiating, breast cancer stem cells," said Dr. Jenny Chang, medical director of the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at BCM and a lead investigator of the study. "Now, we have found a compound that inhibits activation of this pathway, reducing the number of tumor-initiating or cancer-causing cells that come from the original tumor."

The Notch pathway is involved in cell-to-cell communication and is responsible for determining the fate of a cell when it divides. Mutations in the pathway can result in cancer.

"These breast cancer stem cells are dependent upon the Notch pathway for survival," said Chang. Shutting it off depletes the supplies of stem cells.

In the study, the researchers used a drug that that inhibits a compound called gamma-secretase and blocks the Notch pathway.

"This drug inhibits the cleavage of the Notch receptor (where cell information is received) and stalls activation of the pathway," said Chang.

After the approach was shown effective in studies of mice that grew human tumors, she and her colleagues tested the drug in women with advanced breast cancer.

Combining the gamma-secretase inhibitor with common chemotherapy drugs targets two populations of cells. The chemotherapy attacks the ordinary tumor cells and the experimental compound goes after the breast cancer stem cells (also called tumor-initiating cells).

In the human studies, the researchers evaluated the stem cells or tumor initiating cells in biopsies taken before and after treatment. In both human and animal studies, inhibition of the pathway reduced the population of these tumor-originating cells that would otherwise remain after chemotherapy.

The next step in research is to take this into larger studies involving patients (Phase III clinical studies), Chang said.

"If what we believe is true, we would eventually start using this therapy earlier in treatment," said Chang.

The use of mice that grow human tumors could in the future shorten the course of developing new anti-cancer drugs, said Chang.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Role of Cancer Stem Cells in Chemo-Resistance
'Wound response' of cancer stem cells may explain chemo-resistance in bladder cancer.
Friday, December 05, 2014
Ronin Provides Alternate Pathway to Pristine Embryonic Stem Cells
The protein Ronin maintains embryonic stem cells in their undifferentiated state and plays roles in genesis of embryos and their development, researchers say.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Nature Mixes, Matches Genes to Keep Nerve Cells Straight
BCM researchers report that nature has to mix and match thousands of genes to generate the myriad types of neurons needed to assemble the brain and nervous system.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Findings Indicate How Gene Transcription is Controlled in Embryonic Stem Cells
In a report that appears in the journal Nature Cell Biology, BCM researchers explain that association determines fate in embryonic stem cells.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Notch Controls Bone Formation and Strength
Notch, a protein that governs cell differentiation process in embryos, plays a critical role in bone formation and strength later in life.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Scientific News
Ancient Viral Molecules Essential for Human Development
Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
CRI Identifies Emergency Blood-formation Response
Researchers report that when tissue damage occurs, an emergency blood-formation system activates.
New Way to Force Stem Cells to Become Bone Cells
Potential therapies based on this discovery could help people heal bone injuries or set hardware, such as replacement knees and hips.
Dead Bacteria to Kill Colorectal Cancer
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have successfully used dead bacteria to kill colorectal cancer cells.
Promise of Newborn Stem Cells to Revolutionize Clinical Practice
In this article Shweta Sharma, PhD, discusses the potential of an Umbilical Cord Blood bank as an untapped source of samples for research and clinical trials.
The Life Story of Stem Cells
A model analyses the development of stem cell numbers in the human body.
Novel Stem Cell Line Avoids Risk of Introducing Transplanted Tumors
Progenitor cells might eventually be used to repair or rebuild damaged or destroyed organs.
Advancing Genome Editing of Blood Stem Cells
Genome editing techniques for blood stem cells just got better, thanks to a team of researchers at USC and Sangamo BioSciences.
Molecule Proves Key to Brain Repair After Stroke
Scientists found that a molecule known as growth and differentiation factor 10 (GDF10) plays a key role in repair mechanisms following stroke.
Towards Patient-Specific Drug Screening
A new breakthrough by the 3D stem cell printing team at Heriot-Watt could pave the way to individually tailored drug testing regimes, both reducing the need for animal testing and ensuring that patients receive drugs which are most effective for their individual needs.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos