Health Headlines: New drug could help fight difficult to treat cancers

Start your day with 7 News Sunrise
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 7:17 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A new drug compound is showing promising effects in fighting aggressive triple-negative breast cancer, which has only a five-year survival rate of 12%.

Lynette Dawson is one such patient who could be helped by the compound, “I was first diagnosed with cancer in July of 2018. The doctors examined both my breasts and felt a lump on my left.”

While she’s had a double mastectomy and cancer has responded to chemo and radiation, Lynette has a form of cancer called HER-2 that’s hormonally driven. But triple-negative breast cancer has no hormone receptors, making it very hard to treat.

Dr. Ratna Vadlamudi with UT Health San Antonio explains the chances of those diagnosed with this form of cancer, “I think if it’s a grade two or grade three, 50% of them will not survive within five years.”

In the search for a solution, Dr. Vadlamudi and his team tested 30,000 genes hoping to find one to stop triple-negative cancer.

“So, what we found is ERX-41 binds to a new therapeutic target that is LipA.”

Once bound to the LipA gene, the compound causes the cancer cells to die off.

“They accumulate in the lumen, and the lumen sends a signal that something is wrong, stop everything.”

After finding positive results in mice, they say it’s a huge breakthrough.

“It’s like a missile and it goes and finds its target.”

Normal breast cells are not affected by ERX-41, and there seems to be no toxicity risk to the patient. That makes it particularly effective against Lynette’s subtype of cancer.

Lynette says, “HER2 positive is not the easiest. It likes to migrate to other parts of your body.”

But if the new compound proves safe and effective for humans, it may be another potential option for women battling tough-to-treat breast cancers.

So far, ERX-41 has been effective in knocking down cancer in mice in 60 days. Researchers expect human clinical trials to begin in 2023.