Other highlights from the April 18 Journal of the National Cancer Institute

New Culture Technique Could Lead to Drug Discoveries

A novel cell culture technique for a noninvasive breast malignancy known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) could facilitate the discovery of new drugs to prevent DCIS recurrence or progression.

Gillian Farnie, Ph.D, of the University of Manchester in England, and colleagues developed a novel method to culture DCIS cells, and using this method, they examined the role of the epidermal growth factor receptor and Notch signaling pathways in the growth of DCIS. They found that both pathways were involved in self-renewal of DCIS cells; the former was necessary for DCIS growth, and the latter was important for cell survival.

"To our knowledge, no culture technique for DCIS exists; thus, the nonadherent culture technique that we describe should be useful for isolating tumor-forming epithelial cells from their primary DCIS lesions to allow a better understanding of their growth," the authors write.

Contact: Gillian Farnie, Ph.D, of the University of Manchester, 0161 446 3212, Gillian.Farnie@manchester.ac.uk

Shortened HER2 Gene Responds to Lapatinib, Not Trastuzumab

Breast cancer cells expressing a shortened form of the HER2 gene can be treated with lapatinib, but they are resistant to another drug known as trastuzumab.

HER2 is a gene in the epidermal growth factor receptor family that plays a role in regulating cell growth. In about 15 to 20 percent of breast cancers, HER2 is overexpressed, and women with these kinds of tumors have a worse than average prognosis. Many breast cancers that express HER2 are resistant to the HER2 antibody trastuzumab, a drug often used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer. Some are resistant because they express p95HER2, a shortened form of the receptor that cannot bind to trastuzumab.

Maurizio Scaltriti, of the Vall d'He

Contact: Liz Savage
Journal of the National Cancer Institute

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