• Press Release

Novel Therapeutic Target Discovered for Estrogen Receptor Positive (ER+) Breast Cancer

Mount Sinai researchers identify new protein in a common subtype of breast cancer which can potentially offer more effective therapies for the future

  • New York, NY
  • (November 17, 2017)

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have identified a protein that can be targeted to suppress growth of a common type of breast cancer known as “estrogen receptor positive” (ER+), including ER+ cancers that are resistant to standard treatments.

The protein, tyrosine kinase 6 (PTK6), is an enzyme molecule that is highly expressed in multiple tumor types, including prostate, ovarian, and breast cancers. It can promote cancer cell survival and growth of ER+ breast cancer cells. The study, titled "PTK6 regulates growth and survival of endocrine therapy-resistant ER+ breast cancer cells," was published in an online study today in NPJ Breast Cancer.

“Never before has PTK6 inhibition been shown to inhibit growth and induce cell death of ER+ breast cancer cells, including those resistant to standard treatments for this subtype such as tamoxifen,” said Hanna Irie, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Hematology and Medical Oncology) and Oncological Sciences at The Tisch Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and senior author of the study. “We are excited and gratified by these remarkable results, which could lead to a new way to treat these drug resistant metastases of ER+ breast cancers and/or prevent their metastases in the first place.”

According to Dr. Irie, the research is especially important because it supports the potential therapeutic value of targeting PTK6 in ER+ breast cancers, which constitute the most common subtype of breast cancer. Approximately 65 percent of all breast cancers express the estrogen receptor (ER +) and/or the progesterone receptor (PR+). One in eight women in the United States has a chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2017.

Standard treatments for ER+ breast cancer are endocrine therapies such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors. “Endocrine therapies are still the most effective medical therapy for this subtype of breast cancer, and the end goal is to inhibit growth and/or kill ER+ breast cancer cells,” said Dr. Irie. ”However, some breast cancer patients still develop metastatic ER+ disease despite these common endocrine therapies, so newer treatments are very important and necessary to kill endocrine therapy-resistant cancers.”

“This is a truly exciting discovery for the field of breast cancer,” said Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute. “This breakthrough could lead to more effective therapies for women with this very common subtype of breast cancer and be the therapeutic target that the drug companies have been waiting for.”

This work was supported by a Susan G. Komen Career Catalyst Research Grant, as well as Baylor College of Medicine, which made key research contributions.


About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is in the "Honor Roll" of best hospitals in America, ranked No. 15 nationally in the 2016-2017 "Best Hospitals" issue of U.S. News & World Report. The Mount Sinai Hospital is also ranked as one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Geriatrics, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Ear, Nose & Throat, and is in the top 50 in four other specialties. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 10 nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report in "Best Children's Hospitals."

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