The discovery suggests that the presence of nucleolin in breast cancer stem cells may indicate which cells are highly tumorigenic.
A team of researchers from the University of Coimbra, through the Center of Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC) and the Faculties of Pharmacy and Medicine, and the biotech company TREAT U, discovered a signaling protein that can mediate the delivery of a combination of drugs that kill 100% of tumor cells, in triple negative breast cancer, a subtype of cancer with no targeted treatment available.
The efficacy of this strategy lays on the ability of the signaling protein, nucleolin, to identify cancer stem cells believed to be involved in chemotherapy resistance.
JN Moreira, the PI of the article published in Biomaterials, explains: “it was demonstrated that the strong presence of nucleolin in different types of breast cancer cells facilitates the targeted delivery of a drug combination, encapsulated in nanoparticles, providing 100% cell death, as proven in this laboratory study.”
“The discovery suggests that the presence of nucleolin in breast cancer stem cells may indicate which cells are highly tumorigenic”, highlights Nuno Fonseca, the article’s first author.
Several breast cancer studies suggest that cancer stem cells play a relevant role in tumor growth, metastization, recurrence and drug resistance. These characteristics make cancer stem cells a relevant therapeutic target, as was confirmed in this research.
The research proposes that future therapies, specifically targeted to nucleolin, and allowing targeting different subpopulations of the tumor microenvironment, may be the basis for developing a specific treatment for triple negative breast cancer.