Triple negative breast cancer is the breast cancer where the cells lack three type of receptors estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). That means the growth of cancer is not fueled by estrogen, progesterone or too many HER2 receptors. Triple negative breast cancer are the most aggressive type of breast cancer and are also known as basal-like breast cancer(BLBC). It is estimated to account for 10-20% of breast cancers in the US, and it is most common among African-American women and those under the age of 40.
As triple negative breast cells lack the hormone receptors, so the patients don't respond to the hormone therapies such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors - or treatments that target HER2 receptors, including trastuzumab. A combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy is the most common treatment strategy for the condition. As, treatment is very limited for the triple negative breast cancer, so survival rates are also quite low compared to other breast cancers.
Patients with advanced triple negative breast cancer were found to have a molecule called IL13R alpha2 (IL13RA2) on the surface of metastatic cancer cells. High level of IL13RA2 is found to be present in cancer cells which spread very fast to the lungs. High level of this molecule is the direct marker of the cancer progression. Reducing the expression of IL13RA2 can slow the tumor growth to very large extent, and the cancer cells were much less likely to spread to the lungs. So, the molecule can be a important drug target for the lowering of triple breast cancer aggressiveness.
Founding of the new target can lower the death rate by triple negative breast cancer to a much extent and can be a ray of hope for the patients. This method can also lead to treatment strategies for other forms of cancer involving high IL13RA2 expression, such as ovarian, brain, colon and pancreatic cancers.