New research shows that hormone therapy works better against aggressive breast cancer cells that express the protein estrogen receptor beta (ERβ), reports Medical Xpress. The new research paper was published in the latest issue of the Oncotarget journal.

The scientists found a handful of other compounds that drug developers can target when creating medicine to treat for this aggressive type of breast cancer. The researchers studied triple negative breast cancer, which lacks certain receptor proteins and makes the cancer more aggressive.

In other types, these receptor proteins actually hold the hormones estrogen and progesterone together. Patients with triple negative breast cancer have worse outcomes because the cancer often metastasizes and spreads to other organs.

The researchers uncovered that triple negative breast cancer cells that express the estrogen receptor protein beta but lack the estrogen receptor alpha tend to interact much more favorably when treated with estrogen or estrogen-like drugs.

The scientists also found that the proteins cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) played a role in how estrogen chemicals affected the beta estrogen receptor protein. The researchers found that this treatment stops tumor growth and can even lead tumors to decrease in size.

“ERβ is a tumor suppressor whose expression is associated with a better prognosis in breast cancer,” the researchers wrote in the research paper. “As ERβ is expressed in approximately 30 percent of TNBCs we sought to determine the therapeutic potential of targeting ERβ in TNBC.”

“In this manuscript, we demonstrate that ligand-mediated activation of ERβ with estrogen, or the ERβ selective agonist LY500307, resulted in anti-proliferative effects in vitro and suppression of tumor progression in vivo. Activation of ERβ was shown to induce cell cycle arrest, but not apoptosis.”

This is very good news for patients with triple negative breast cancer. This type of research could potentially save lives.

“Our data suggests that the tumor-suppressive effects of ERβ in triple negative breast cancer are partly controlled by cell cycle regulating proteins suggesting that targeting these proteins may lead to potentially new and effective therapies for triple negative breast cancer,” stated Dr. Hawse.

The researchers also uncovered that triple negative breast cancer patients who don’t express estrogen receptor protein alpha but do express estrogen receptor protein beta have a better survival rate and have a better chance of becoming cancer-free.

Cancer drugs using estrogen to activate estrogen receptor protein beta could become a great novel treatment for patients with triple negative breast cancer.

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