HomePOPULARBreakthrough in Breast Cancer Research Offers Hope for Patients

Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Research Offers Hope for Patients

In a significant breakthrough, scientists have uncovered a method to eradicate “hibernating” tumour cells in breast cancer, offering new hope for patients, particularly those with oestrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer.

The research, aimed at understanding why breast cancer returns after initial treatment, revealed that hormone therapies can induce changes in certain cells, causing them to enter a dormant state instead of being eliminated. These dormant cells can awaken years later, leading to a relapse of the cancer.

ER+ breast cancer, which constitutes 80% of all breast cancer cases, affects a significant number of individuals worldwide, with 55,500 cases diagnosed in the UK each year.

“After surgery to remove primary oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer, patients are given five to 10 years of hormone therapy which aims to kill any remaining cancer cells,” explained Luca Magnani, professor of epigenetic plasticity at The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

The study, published in the journal Cancer Discovery, focused on the role of an enzyme called G9a. Researchers found that inhibiting G9a prevented cancer cells from entering dormancy and effectively eliminated those already in a hibernating state.

“While still in the early stages, these findings unveil potential new targets for the development of innovative treatments to prevent breast cancer recurrence,” remarked Dr Tayyaba Jiwani, science engagement manager at Cancer Research UK.

Breast cancer remains a significant health concern globally, with 2.4 million women diagnosed in 2022, resulting in 670,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This groundbreaking research offers a ray of hope in the fight against this disease, potentially saving countless lives in the future.

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