Novel biomarker discovered for African-American triple-negative breast cancer patients

In a study published recently in Scientific Reports a multi-institutional group of researchers have uncovered a biomarker that may predict poor prognosis in African-American (AA) triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. They also demonstrated that this biomarker does not affect disease outcomes for white TNBC patients.

The biomarker termed nuclear KIFC1 (nKIFC1) has previously predicted worse outcomes in breast cancer; however, its role in racially distinct TBNC patient groups is still unknown.

In this study the researchers assessed nKIFC1 in 163 AA and 144 White TNBC tissue microarrays. The team discovered that high levels of nKIFC1 were associated with significantly worse distant metastasis-free survival, overall survival and progression-free survival in AA TNBCs patients, but not white TNBCs patients.

The team also demonstrated that if they silenced the KIFC1 gene, it had a greater impact on the migration of the AA cells than it did on the white cells. The team speculate that their findings could lead to novel treatment options, such as KIFC1 inhibitors, to help prevent metastasis.

Lead author Angela Ogden from Georgia State University (GA, USA) commented: “It may be that for whatever reason, in AA breast cancer tumors, KIFC1 helps the cells to migrate and spread to other parts of the body. And for reasons that we currently don’t know, that’s not the case in white tumors. Ultimately, it may even be that AA patients could potentially be treated with a KIFC1 inhibitor to help prevent metastasis, but that’s for future studies.”

Ogden concluded: “The approach of treating all patients the same, regardless of their racial or ethnic background, may not be the best approach as genetic ancestry matters. There may be biomarkers and treatments that work better for people of a certain ancestry, race or ethnicity, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Ogden A, Garlapati C, Li X et al Multi-institutional study of nuclear KIFC1 as a biomarker of poor prognosis in African American women with triple-negative breast cancer Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/srep42289 (2017); George State press release