Discovery Could Improve Prognosis for Triple Negative Breast Cancer Patients

The discovery could lead to targeted therapy in triple negative breast cancer patients.

Basal-like breast cancer (BLBC), more commonly known as triple-negative breast cancer, is a deadly disease with poor prognosis. Highly prevelant among younger and African-American women, the disease is associated with extensive metastasis early in the disease. Now, scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine and the University of Cyprus have identified a biomarker, a receptor called IL13RA2; high levels of expression of this receptor could indicate worse progression-free survival. Women who had high expression of IL13RA2 also presented with increased lung metastases.

In their study published in Breast Cancer Research the authors show that depletion of this receptor in metastatic breast cancer cells reduced growth of the primary tumor and also had a significant impact on preventing lung metastases. A genomewide transcription analysis showed that knowckdown of IL13AR2 and treatment of breast cancer cells with IL2 resulted in a STAT6-dependent TP63 signaling, which could be responsible for the reduced lung metastases of these cancerous cells.

"This discovery offers a glimmer of hope for patients stricken with BLBC. Personalized cancer therapies could be developed by targeting breast cancer cells that express copious levels of IL13RA2," explained corresponding author Sam Thiagalingam, PhD, in an interview. Considering that IL13RA2 is also expressed in other deadly cancers such as pancreatic, brain, and ovarian cancer, these results have a much wider implication.