Effect of breast cancer gene reversed
Scientists have identified a gene implicated in up to one fifth of breast cancers. The good news is that studies in mice seem to show a commonly-used blood pressure drug appears to reverse the effects of the gene.
The team began by searching for genes which are overexpressed in tumours, to identify possible targets for treatments. They backed up previous findings - the most commonly expressed gene in breast cancers is ERBB2. However they also identified a new gene AGTR1 which was overexpressed in 10-20% of patients. This gene codes for an angiotensin receptor involved in regulating blood pressure.
A drug currently on the market targets this specific receptor; therefore the researchers tested its effect on AGTR1 type tumours. They took mice and implanted tumour cells into their breast tissue. When treated with the drug called Losartan, they found that tumours containing the AGTR1 gene shrank by nearly a third.
Although the drug was only effective for this type of tumour, the fact that the drug is already on the market is very promising. Further studies will look at Losartan in more detail to determine how it works and whether it will be an effective treatment for these types of tumours in humans.
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