Novel potential treatment for breast cancer metastasis identified

A class of drugs already approved by the US FDA may hold potential for the prevention of breast cancer metastasis.

Published recently in Nature Communications, a study by researchers from Mayo Clinic (MN, USA) demonstrated that by using drugs that inhibit CDK4/6, the spread of triple-negative breast cancer may be prevented. This is as a result of inhibition of the metastasis protein SNAIL, which CDK4/6 normally regulates. Though CDK4/6 inhibitors are not currently approved for treating triple-negative breast cancer, they are FDA-approved for use in treating estrogen-positive breast cancer.

“Metastasis is a hallmark of cancer and a leading cause of cancer death,” stated Zhenkun Lou (Mayo Clinic), the study’s senior author. “Despite great progress in cancer therapy, the prevention of cancer metastasis is still an unfulfilled challenge,”

In the study, the team concentrated on triple-negative breast cancer owing to its complexity to treat, as it does not express any of the primary targets of current breast cancer therapies.

“Prior published data suggested that CDK 4/6 inhibitors were not effective in reducing the growth rates of ER-negative breast cancer,” continued Lou. “Our data confirmed that, while the rate of growth of triple-negative breast cancer was not affected by CDK 4/6 inhibitors, this class of drugs was able to significantly inhibit the spread of triple-negative breast cancer to distant organs when tested in multiple different triple-negative breast cancer models, including patient-derived xenografts.”

The patient-derived xenografts were developed by implanting tumor tissue from a patient into an immunodeficent mouse. The mouse then acts as a model to allow the researchers to identify which compounds and combinations appear to be the most effective for the individual patient.

However, Lou cautions that further research is required. If these findings can be further validated, it could be a vital discovery that may expand the use of CDK4/6 inhibitors as to prevent metastasis in a wider range of cancers as a result of SNAIL regulation.

“These findings may provide a new treatment for the prevention of cancer metastasis,” concluded co-author Matthew Goetz (Mayo Clinic). “Mayo Clinic is now developing new studies that will focus on the role of CDK 4/6 inhibitors and their potential to inhibit cancer metastasis in women with triple-negative breast cancer who are at highest risk for cancer metastasis.”

Source: Mayo Clinic Press Release: