Researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified the potential of a protein called CIB1 as a new drug target for patients with an aggressive form of breast cancer.1
Leslie Parise, PhD, UNC Lineberger professor and chair in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and colleagues believe the cancer cells depend on CIB1 for survival. Knowing about this dependence, they deleted the protein using genetic engineering, and discovered that they could kill certain cancerous cells and decrease tumor growth in mouse models.
“We believe that this protein could be a potentially safe therapeutic target for triple-negative breast cancer, and the future could bring drugs that specifically target this protein to kill breast cancer cells,” Dr. Parise said in a UNC news release.
This finding was first published in the June 2015 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.2
Study author Justin Black, calls CIB1 a “unique target because it is not an oncogene, nor is it an enzyme, yet it appears to have a crucial role in triple-negative breast cancer tumor growth." His work as doctoral candidate in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics will continue as the team partners with their newly formed company, Reveris Therapeutics, along with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Kickstart.
Triple-negative breast cancer, which doesn't have estrogen or progesterone receptors, is particularly insidious because its tumors tend to grow and spread more quickly than other types of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.3 Therefore, traditional hormone therapies do not work for this cancer type. Considering 1 out of 10 breast cancer patients are diagnosed with this kind of breast cancer, research teams like this one are working feverishly to discover new, effective treatments for this aggressive disease.
- UNC School of Medicine. (2015). Potential drug target identified for aggressive breast cancer type.
- Black JL, Harrell C, Leisner TM, et al. (2015). CIB1 depletion impairs cell survival and tumor growth in triple-negative breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.
- American Cancer Society. (2014). How is breast cancer classified?