Scientists including an Indian-American researcher have identified a molecule that treats breast cancer, giving hope to patients who have become resistant to traditional therapies. The drug works by blocking other molecules and proteins called co-factors that are attached to the estrogen receptor for cancer cells to multiply. The new molecule, dubbed ERX-11, mimics a peptide, or protein building block.
Traditional methods and why it’s failing?
Traditional hormonal drugs, such as tamoxifen, work by attaching to a molecule called the estrogen receptor in cancer cells, preventing it from binding to the receptor, a necessary step for cancer cells to multiply. However, the estrogen receptor can mutate and change its shape over time so that the treatment drug no longer fits neatly with the receptor. When this happens, the cancer cells start multiplying again.
How it works?
First-in-class drugs are those that work by a unique mechanism – in this case a molecule that targets a protein on the estrogen receptor of tumour cells. The potential drug offers hope for patients whose breast cancer has become resistant to traditional therapies.
“There has been intense interest in developing drugs that block the ability of the oestrogen receptor – the prime target in most breast cancers – from interacting with the co-regulator proteins that cause a tumour’s growth,” said David Mangelsdorf, professor at UT Southwestern.
“This is a fundamentally different, new class of agents for oestrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer,” said Ganesh Raj, professor at the University of Texas Southwestern (UT Southwestern) Simmons Cancer Center.