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Targeting the “un-targetable”

Nov. 18, 2016, 8:00 AM

by Meredith Jackson

Triple negative breast cancers (TNBC) are so named because they lack common genetic “target” mutations that can be easily treated with specific cancer drugs. However, in a recent study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Deborah Lannigan, Ph.D., and colleagues investigated a new target involved in TNBC called RSK.

They demonstrated that RSK can help cancers spread throughout the body (metastasize) more quickly. By blocking the RSK protein with a novel drug, the researchers were able to prevent cancers from metastasizing.

Currently, there are other treatments available to prevent metastasis known as MEK inhibitors, but these drugs activate the protein AKT, which can limit their effects. This new drug works through a different mechanism and does not activate AKT, making it a powerful new tool in the fight against metastatic breast cancer.

In the future, the researchers hope to prove that the new drug is even more effective than standard therapies at halting cancer’s progress.

This research was supported by grants from Susan G. Komen (#IIR12223770), the National Institutes of Health (GM088839) and the National Science Foundation (CHE-1565788).

Send suggestions for articles to highlight in Aliquots and any other feedback about the column to aliquots@vanderbilt.edu

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