Breast cancer cells coloured illustration

Potential new therapy for patients with chemotherapy-resistant breast cancer

  • Research

A potential new therapy for triple negative breast cancer has been identified by researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Approximately one in every eight breast cancers in Ireland is triple negative. With limited forms of targeted therapy, it is one of the most difficult types of breast cancer to treat and up to 70% of patients with triple negative breast cancer develop resistance to treatment.

Using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, the RCSI study found, for the first time, that the enzyme histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) played a key role in the metabolism of triple negative breast cancer cells. The study also discovered that a specific molecule, BAS-2, inhibited this enzyme and was able to selectively kill the cancer cells, while sparing normal cells.

A patent has been submitted for this discovery and the researchers are seeking industry partners to develop the treatment into a drug-like compound to assess if it can improve treatment for patients.

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust Seed Award, L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme and Science Foundation Ireland’s Frontiers for the Future Programme.

Led at RCSI by Dr Triona Ni Chonghaile, lecturer in Physiology and Medical Physics, this research is published in Science Advances.