Karmanos Cancer Institute to Study Treatments for Aggressive Breast Cancer

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Researchers at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute will study therapeutic treatments for aggressive, triple-negative breast cancer, after receiving a five-year, $1.5-million grant from the National Cancer Institute.

“(This research) has relevance to public health and is highly translational with potential clinical impact,” says Gen Sheng Wu, an associate professor in the Department of Oncology at Karmanos and Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Triple-negative breast cancer — considered the most difficult to treat — makes up approximately 15 to 20 percent of all breast cancer cases. It predominately affects younger women and black women. The majority of triple-negative breast cancers can be categorized as mesenchymal-like, referring to a type of cell responsible for the creation of connective tissues, blood, lymphatics, bone, and cartilage.

Wu and his co-investigators will seek to determine the therapeutic potential of a specific targeted therapy when used in various combinations, included being used alone, in combination with other drugs, and in combination with chemotherapy.

According to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, this type of cancer lacks the three common receptors known to cause most breast cancers — estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. Consequently, while the cancer does respond to chemotherapy, it does not generally respond to targeted treatments.

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