Targeting androgen and vitamin D receptors could be an effective treatment for triple-negative breast cancer, according to a new study  published online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.  
Researchers studied more than 15,000 normal breast cells and discovered eleven previously undefined cell subtypes, which they then categorized into four new hormonal groups characterized by vitamin D, androgen and estrogen hormone receptor expression.
The study results suggest that two-thirds of triple-negative patients may be candidates for androgen and vitamin D-targeted hormone therapy. Perhaps equally important, researchers found that some breast tumor subtypes, such as basal-like, have been classified erroneously due to inaccurate definition of normal cell types.
“[E]arly data suggest that targeting androgen and vitamin D receptors in addition to standard chemotherapy may increase effectiveness, and may allow for lower doses of chemotherapy with the same effect.” according to the study’s first study author, Sandro Santagata, MD, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Department of Pathology, and senior study author Tan A. Ince MD, PhD, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “We have much more to learn about why normal breast cells are so diverse and how that information can help us better improve the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of breast cancer patients.”

A good deal of previous research has linked androgen to TNBC.  One study, presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in 2012, suggested that androgen might be included in the definition of TNBC. Another study, also presented at SABCS, successfully tested a prostrate drug, which targets androgens, on TNBC.  And a host of studies have shown that vitamin D deficiencies are linked to all types of breast cancer, including TNBC.

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