ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have uncovered an important link between inflammation and breast cancer stem cells that suggests a new way to target cells that are resistant to current treatments.
The researchers identified a receptor, CXCR1, on the cancer stem cells which triggers growth of stem cells in response to inflammation and tissue damage. A drug originally developed to prevent organ transplant rejection blocks this receptor, killing breast cancer stem cells and preventing their metastasis in mice, according to the study.
Cancer stem cells, the small number of cells that fuel a tumor's growth, are believed to be resistant to current chemotherapies and radiation treatment, which researchers say may be the reason cancer so often returns after treatment.
Results of the current study appear online Jan. 4 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and will appear in the journal's February print issue.
Mice treated with repertaxin or the combination of repertaxin and chemotherapy had dramatically fewer cancer stem cells than those treated with chemotherapy alone. In addition, repertaxin-treated mice developed significantly fewer metastases than mice treated with chemotherapy alone.
Repertaxin has been tested in early phase clinical trials to prevent rejection after organ transplantation. In these studies, side effects seem to be minimal. There are no reports of using repertaxin to treat cancer.
Breast cancer statistics: 194,280 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,610 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society
Additional authors: Christophe Ginestier, Suling Liu, Mark Diebel, Hasan Korkaya, Ming Luo, Marty Brown, Jun-Lin Guan, Gabriela Dontu, all from U-M; and Julien Wicinski, Olivier Cabaud, Emmanuelle Charafe-Jauffret, Daniel Birnbaum, all from Universite de la Mediterranee, Marseille, France
Disclosure: The University of Michigan has filed for patent protection on this technology, and is currently looking for a commercialization partner to help bring the technology to market.
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