ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic researchers have identified the drug estradiol as a potential new treatment for a subset of women with triple-negative breast cancer. Their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
“Triple-negative breast cancer is a form of breast cancer that lacks expression of estrogen receptor alpha, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, also known as HER2. And it exhibits high rates of disease recurrence,” says John Hawse, Ph.D., a molecular biologist at Mayo Clinic and senior author. “So far, there have been few drugs other than chemotherapy that appear to work effectively for the treatment of this disease.”
In previous research, Dr. Hawse and his colleagues discovered that a second form of the estrogen receptor, known as estrogen receptor beta, is expressed in approximately 25 percent of triple-negative breast cancer tumors. In this study, Dr. Hawse’s laboratory demonstrated that estradiol, a naturally occurring female hormone, effectively inhibits the growth of triple-negative breast cancer tumors expressing estrogen receptor beta.
“Remarkably, we discovered that estradiol, which normally stimulates growth of cancer cells in tumors that express estrogen receptor alpha, has the opposite effect in
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