CANCER RESEARCH UK scientists have found a new way to slow the growth of the most aggressive type of breast cancer, according to research published online on June 13, 2016 in the journal Oncogene. The open-access article is titled “'The BET Inhibitor JQ1 Selectively Impairs Tumour Response to Hypoxia and Downregulates CA9 and Angiogenesis in Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC).” The team from Oxford University and the University of Nottingham found that using a drug called JQ1 can alter how cancer cells respond to hypoxia -- or low oxygen -- found in more than 50 per cent of breast tumors overall and most commonly in triple-negative breast cancer, the form of the disease that is hardest to treat. JQ1 works by stopping cancer cells adapting to the lack of oxygen. The study results showed that JQ1 slowed tumor growth and limited the number of blood vessels that were produced. When a patient's breast cancer is starved of oxygen it can be much more difficult to treat successfully. That's because the way cancer cells adapt to low oxygen changes their biology and makes them resistant to standard therapies. When there are low levels of oxygen, tumor cells turn on specific genes which send signals for new blood vessels to supply them with fresh oxygen, giving cancer the nutrients it needs to grow and spread. Dr. Alan McIntyre, co-author of the study, at the University of Nottingham, said: "Triple-negative breast cancer is a challenge. By tackling hypoxia that so often compromises the treatment of breast cancers, JQ1 could be an important key to helping women with aggressive breast tumors." The study explains how the family of drugs to which JQ1 belongs works.
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