Cancer tumors contain a variety of traits that affect their response to treatment and their risk of metastasis. A team of researchers has used this fact to suggest a model that can predicts how a tumor might evolve. Their research, published in Cell Reports, emphasizes the importance of mapping the genetic traits of specific tumors.
That is, while we all might be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, our tumors are unique to us.
Led by Kornelia Polyak, at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, the researchers analyzed the heterogeneity of tumors from 47 patients before and after treatment for breast cancer. After treatment, they found:
• an increase in the number of CD44–CD24-positive cells in luminal A, luminal B, and TNBC tumors.
• lower levels of CD44–CD24-negative cells.
• the cell subpopulations in Her2-positive tumors changed very little.
• the fraction of Ki67-positive cells declined in all cell types in all tumors.
The significance of this research? In an interview in Genomeweb, Polyak explained: “Based on this knowledge, we could predict which tumor cells will likely be eliminated or slowed down by treatment and how this may change the tumor overall.This knowledge could aid the design of subsequent therapies for those who do not respond to the first line of treatment.”
It’s one more step toward understanding what TNBC is, rather than just what it isn’t, and that is a step toward targeted treatment. And, maybe, eventually, prevention.
Read more about TNBC in my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.