Scientists from the cluster of excellence BIOSS Centre for Biological Signaling Studies at the University of Freiburg and the Freiburg University Medical Center in Germany have shown that inhibiting the epigenetic regulator KDM4 might offer a potential novel treatment option for breast cancer patients. They used a newly established cell model that enables scientists to isolate cancer stem cells directly from patient tumor. Using this special culture system, they were able to test potential new cancer drugs. One of these, a novel inhibitor of the epigenetic regulator KDM4, co-developed in the lab of Professor Roland Schüle, showed promising results. The researchers published their work online on September 7, 2017 in Cancer Research. The article is titled “KDM4 Inhibition Targets Breast Cancer Stem-Like Cells.” Although the prognosis for breast cancer has been steadily improving in the last decades, patients with triple-receptor-negative breast cancer form a subgroup who receive a considerably worse prognosis in most cases. Roughly 15 percent of all breast cancer patients have triple-receptor-negative breast cancer, which lacks markers for a targeted therapy. In the last few years, a bulk of data pointing to a small population of cells in tumors that maintain tumor growth, are particularly resistant to chemotherapy, are responsible for relapses, and develop metastases. These cells, named cancer stem-like cells, share many characteristics with the body’s normal stem cells.
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