Doctors announce breakthrough in fight against breast cancer

Researchers at the University of Manchester found that breast cancer stem cells thrived after chemotherapy when RAC1B — a rare variant of the more common RAC1 protein — was present in patients’ cells. But when the team engineered the cancer in mice without the RAC1B variant, no new tumors returned after chemotherapy.

For the first time, scientists have identified RAC1B targeting as a potential way to improve breast cancer outcomes.

Experts say the discovery could greatly increase the effectiveness of future breast cancer treatments and help create a kinder and smarter weapon against the deadly disease.

The findings of the group, funded by the British charity Breast Cancer Now, are published today in the Journal of Cancer. Oncogene.

Dr Ahmet Ukar, a Breast Cancer Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, said: “Developing root-targeting cancer stem cell therapies has been a research goal for over 20 years, but so far it has proven elusive.

“For the first time, our study has shown that without RAC1B, breast cancer stem cells cannot form tumors and become more vulnerable to chemotherapy, making the treatment even more effective.”

The good RAC1 protein plays a vital role in keeping organs healthy.

Dr. Ukar’s team found that RAC1B has a negative effect when interacting with cancer, but the absence of the variant does not harm the organs.

In their tests on mice, they also found that cancer cells without RAC1B did not form visible tumors even after 100 days. And cancer cells grown in the lab without RAC1B did not recover after being treated with the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin.

Dr. Ukar said: “Positively, RAC1B is not needed for healthy cells. Thus, targeting RAC1B for new cancer therapies is unlikely to have serious side effects.

“We hope that further research will help translate these findings into targeted therapies for breast cancer patients.”

Breast Cancer Today director Dr Simon Vincent said: “Early-stage discoveries like this can help provide the building blocks for future breakthroughs, leading to effective treatment for the 55,000 women and 370 men diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK every week. year.”

Commentary by Dr. Kotryna temcinaite

Every 10 minutes, a woman in the UK is diagnosed with breast cancer.

If nothing changes, by 2030 this figure will increase to one woman every eight minutes, so it is imperative that we find new and effective treatments for this disease.

Every new life-saving drug starts off as an idea being tested in the lab, just like Dr. Ukar’s exciting early discovery. By discovering that a rare protein variant present in nearly all human cells could be the key to improving breast cancer treatment, his team may have unlocked a future breakthrough.

We hope that further research will help to translate these results into more gentle and reasonable treatment of patients with breast cancer.

Every day spent learning about breast cancer is an opportunity to find new ways to prevent, diagnose, treat, and help people affected by the disease. Breast Cancer currently funds over 80 cutting-edge research projects.

We all rely on the hope that our research brings – hope for a better future for people diagnosed with breast cancer.

  • Learn more about the Breast Cancer Now study at

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