Breast Cancer Faces Genetic Resistance
A new scientific study has discovered that genetic resistance to breast cancer treatment can be identified well before the disease even has time to grow. These findings could be vital in the search to find a cure for breast cancer and could hopefully help to save many lives. If scientists and doctors can identify resistance in cancer cells in advance, they’ll be able to avoid wasting time and resources on drugs and treatment plans that will inevitably prove to be ineffective.
Some sufferers of breast cancer develop resistance to their treatments only a short period after their initial diagnosis. This phenomenon has proved to be quite a stumbling block for doctors as they have simply been unable to predict which treatments will work and which will fail on individual patients. However, this study, undertaken by scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, might be able to offer some valuable aid to doctors.
The study actually discovered five different types of mutation in breast cancer tumors. These mutations allowed for the cancer cells’ resistance to a new form of drug known as an MPS1 inhibitor. Interestingly, the scientists discovered that these mutations were also present in perfectly healthy breast cells. This means that certain individuals will already have resistance to this drug on a genetic level without even having cancer. Therefore, if a woman with these mutations develops breast cancer at some stage in her life, the MSP1 inhibitor drug will be ineffective due to her natural resistance.
The team working on this research also discovered natural resistance to other cancer treatments in healthy cells, meaning that new and alternative treatments need to be employed as a certain number of cancer patients are simply more resistant than others. The head of the study, Dr Spiros Linardopoulos, revealed the importance of this discovery by explaining the way in which certain cancer treatments are able to help cancerous cells “evolve”. Linardopoulos explained that certain drugs will kill off the cancerous cells without resistance, leaving only the strongest cells alive and thereby making the cancer even more resistant.
Linardopoulos called for additional care when conducting future clinical trials as scientists and doctors may be unintentionally strengthening cancerous cells through the use of certain drugs. Katherine Woods, the Senior Research Communications Manager with Breast Cancer Now, the largest breast cancer research charity in the UK, highlighted the importance of these findings and suggested that the research undertaken by Linadopoulos and his team could prove invaluable in the future development of cancer treatments.
Evidently, research to find the most effective cancer treatment will continue and new drugs and methods will be discovered. However, the findings of these scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research need to be considered in all future clinical trials. In attempting to beat cancer, some of the methods used may inadvertently have the opposite effect, helping the cancerous cells to become even more resistant. Clearly, care must always be taken when dealing with such an adaptable disease.