Medical researchers have developed a new treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer – and there's a local connection.
Triple-negative breast cancer makes up about 10% to 15% of all breast cancers, according to the American Cancer Society, though it grows and spreads more quickly and has fewer treatment options.
But Indiana University researchers, with help from the Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research, are working to change that. They announced Thursday that a new drug partially derived from a toxin found in mushrooms kills breast cancer cells.
Their study is published this month in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
“Our big question was whether we could find a new drug that can efficiently kill cancer cells and also enhance the immune response of tumors to cancer immunotherapy,” senior author Xiongbin Lu, Vera Bradley Foundation professor of breast cancer at IU's School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Our work aims to fulfill both of those.”
Triple-negative breast cancer – named because it lacks three traits associated with other breast cancers – often affects young women and Black women. Five-year patient survival rates are lower than with other forms of the disease.
“The drug will be able to be used alone or in combination with current immune checkpoint inhibitors,” Lu said. “I think it will be a game-changer for the field of triple negative breast cancer therapy.”