Melbourne: Australian researchers claim to have found a key factor responsible for making breast cancers more aggressive and resistant to treatment.
The protein, known as ELF5, makes breast cancer tumours more aggressive and resistant to treatment said Chris Ormandy, researcher of Sydney`s Garvan Institute.
According to ABC report, Chris Ormandy has been studying a protein for a decade which plays a critical role in the development of breast cancer.
Study has shown that the same molecular decision occurs in breast cancer and that ELF5 has the ability to change an existing tumour to an oestrogen-insensitive type.
"This work tells us that cancers which become refractory to anti-oestrogen treatment often do so by elevating their levels of ELF5 and becoming functionally oestrogen receptor negative," Ormandy said.
Unfortunately, a large number of those women, approximately about a half of them, will at some point experience insensitivity to the anti-oestrogen treatment that they`ve been put on and their tumour will progress," he said.
"What we`ve found is that in tissue culture models of breast cancers that have been made to become insensitive to anti-oestrogen treatment, that the levels of [ELF5] rise dramatically in those cells.
"They`ve developed a way of stepping around the anti-oestrogen treatment by increasing their levels of ELF5.
"Ormandy said it may be many years before the finding leads to new drugs to treat breast cancer, but the discovery opens a whole new avenue of therapeutic options.
"We can now set about trying to develop therapies that will target ELF5 in a way that will either prevent the acquisition of insensitivity to anti-oestrogens or which will enable, or may enable us to treat tumours once they have become insensitive to anti-oestrogens by targeting ELF5," he said.
The work is being published in the online journal PLOS Biology.