Department of Defense grant to test promising treatment for triple-negative breast cancer

A unique cell surface protein found on triple-negative type breast cancer cells called JAG1 is a promising new therapeutic target for this hard-to-treat and highly metastatic type of breast cancer, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Jan Kitajewski, professor and head of physiology and biophysics at UIC, and his colleagues are working on developing a small drug molecule that can block JAG1.

Kitajewski, who is also associate director for basic science of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, has received a three-year $1.17 million Department of Defense grant to develop this new therapy to treat triple-negative breast cancer, so named because it does not contain three of the most common types of receptors that fuel most breast cancer growth — estrogen, progesterone and the HER-2/neu.

About 40,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer each year. African-American women are most likely to develop triple-negative breast cancer, which is typically treated with aggressive chemotherapy or radiation, not with hormone therapy, the traditional course of action to fight hormone-positive breast cancers. New targeted therapies for triple-negative breast cancer are “badly needed to improve the quality of life for patients, and many of them reside


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