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Novel Treatment Studied in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

By: Laura Entis
Posted: Monday, February 5, 2018

Interferon-β appears to reduce the ability of triple-negative breast cancer to migrate and form tumor-like spheres, according to a study published by senior author Mark Jackson, PhD, of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. After treating triple-negative breast cancer cells with interferon-β every 48 hours for up to 6 weeks, the researchers found the cells exhibited a repressed expression of mesenchymal proteins and were less likely to migrate and form tumor spheres compared with controls.

“We demonstrate that interferon-β reverses some of the more aggressive features of triple-negative breast cancer, which are responsible for metastasis and therapy failure,” said lead author of the study Mary Doherty, a pathology graduate student at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, in a press release. “Moreover, we found that evidence of interferon-β in triple-negative breast cancer tumors correlates with improved patient survival following chemotherapy.”

To determine whether the laboratory results were relevant in a clinical setting, the researchers analyzed data from a breast cancer gene-expression database. They found that patients with triple-negative breast cancer who had elevated interferon-β levels in their breast tissue had a decreased likelihood (by about 25%) of experiencing a recurrence. These findings, the authors wrote, suggest that IFN-β plays a “positive, critical role” in triple-negative breast cancer outcomes.