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New Breast Cancer Gene Targeted for Therapeutics

Last Updated: June 03, 2009.

A gene overexpressed in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers may represent a new therapeutic target, according to a study published online June 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

WEDNESDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- A gene overexpressed in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers may represent a new therapeutic target, according to a study published online June 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Daniel R. Rhodes, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor analyzed 31 breast cancer expression datasets to identify markedly overexpressed genes that could be targeted for therapy.

The researchers found that the AGTR1 gene was markedly overexpressed in 10 to 20 percent of breast cancers, by as much as 100-fold, in addition to the previously identified ERBB2 gene overexpressed in 25 to 30 percent of breast cancers. AGTR1 was only overexpressed in estrogen receptor-positive tumors that were negative for ERBB2. Overexpression and stimulation of AGTR1 in mammary epithelial cells resulted in cell invasiveness. The authors further note that losartan, an AGTR1 antagonist, blocked this invasiveness and reduced the growth of AGTR1-positive tumors by 30 percent in mice.

"Taken together, these observations indicate that marked AGTR1 overexpression defines a subpopulation of estrogen receptor-positive, ERBB2-negative breast cancer that may benefit from targeted therapy with AGTR1 antagonists, such as losartan," Rhodes and colleagues conclude.

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