With medical researchers now focused on finding a treatment and or cure for COVID19, it may seem that  cancer research has been moved to the back burner. But that’s not the case. Here are eight promising research projects that bode well for new drugs to cure or treat breast cancer:

New protein that aids cancer cell growth discovered

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have found a new protein – called RTEL1- that helps cancer cells divide and prosper.   The researchers hope that the new knowledge will help to find new cancer treatments.


Australian researchers make headway on promising cancer therapies

In Austrialia, a new drug called venetoclax is going into clinical trial with the hopes that it will prevent resistance of CDK4/6 inhibitors such as palbociclib, ribociclib, abemaciclib. Researchers have found that while the CDK4/6 inhibitors kill off many cancer cells, they also send some of them to sleep, making relapse inevitable. Venetoclax is able to kill of the sleeping cells, making the drugs more effective.


Another group of Australian researchers have discover a new t a new type of immune cell in breast tissue that helps to keep mammary ducts healthy.  Described as star-shaped ductal macrophages, these cells eat away at dying cells


Study: Drug combo better for high-risk HER2-  breast cancer patients

A new study led by Yale Cancer Center researchers shows women with high-risk HER2-negative breast cancer who are treated before surgery with immunotherapy, plus a PARP inhibitor with chemotherapy, have a higher rate of complete eradication of cancer from the breast and lymph nodes compared to chemotherapy alone. The findings, part of the I-SPY clinical trial, were presented today at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) virtual annual meeting.


Novel way to deliver drugs to cancer cells

Cancer researcher at the University of Alberta  team have developed a chemical compound  that allows them to inject genetic material into cells as a way to deliver cancer drugs more effectively to the tumors they aim to kill.

The compound, a lipopolymer, prompts cells to begin producing a tumor-killing protein that holds promise for individualized treatment options. Today’s cancer drugs are not customizable, and though things like dosage can be changed as appropriate, ultimately, if the cells resist a drug or it proves ineffective, there is no option but to completely switch the drug and try another treatment. With an approach that uses genetic materials, alterations can be made to the order of materials in the DNA strand, known as the nucleotide sequence, to target different proteins to kill off the cancer cells.


Recent breast cancer drug approvals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Trodelvy (chemical name: sacituzumab govitecan-hziy) to treat metastatic triple-negative breast cancer for those who have received at least two previous treatments for metastatic disease. Trodelvy is an immune targeted therapy medicine that is made up of:acituzumab, a monoclonal antibody, that targets the Trop-2 protein which is found in more than 90% of triple-negative breast cancers; SN-38, a topoisomerase I inhibitor chemotherapy which interferes with the cancer cells’ ability to replicate and a compound that links the sacituzumab to the SN-38. The drug is administered intravenously once weekly on day one and day eight of a continuous 21-day treatment cycle.


FDA has also approved Tukysa in combination with chemotherapy  drugs trastuzumab and capecitabine for the treatment  of HER2-positive breast cancer, that has metastasized to other parts of the body including the brain. It’s available to patients who have received one or more prior treatments. More than 25% of women with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer will develop brain metastases, according to clinical trial researchers.


Breast cancer vaccines get a boost

Arizona State University researchers  are looking to develop a breast cancer vaccine using RNA instead of the more common approach of using DNA.

Researchers say the RNA offers more mutant peptides which are easier to target and get an immune system response.

“For example, we can find RNA mutations that 70% of women with breast cancer have in their tumor. That gave us the idea that we can make an off-the-shelf, premade vaccine by just putting enough of the frequent mutations together,” said researcher Stephen Johnston.

Utilizing these shared mutations, or RNA frameshift mutations,  researchers made what they called a FAST shared cancer vaccine that’s been successful so far on mice with breast cancer.


Liz Johnson

Liz Johnson

Writer. Blogger. Advocate. Breast Cancer Conscript.