There are currently few targeted treatments available for triple negative breast cancer. In addition, it can be more aggressive than other breast cancers. We need to understand what makes triple negative breast cancer different from other forms of the disease to develop new effective targeted treatments for patients.
Dr Grigoriadis and her team have found that over 60% of triple negative breast cancers have higher levels of a protein called HORMAD1. This protein is normally only switched on in testicular cells in men, but Dr Grigoriadis thinks it might be playing an important role in some triple negative breast cancers and may be a good target for new treatments.
It’s currently thought that high levels of this protein might cause further changes in breast cancer cells. They in turn could help tumours grow and may make them more aggressive. It’s also thought HORMAD1 may affect the immune system. Dr Grigoriadis will investigate this further to understand more about what HORMAD1 does in triple negative breast cancer.
Her team will work with other scientists who will alter the levels of HORMAD1 in triple negative breast cancer cells in the lab. Using specialised computer methods, Dr Grigoriadis and her team will then analyse these tumour cells to gain a detailed understanding of what this protein does inside breast cancer cells. The researchers will also analyse changes in HORMAD1, using information from tumours donated by people who have had triple negative breast cancer. They will look at changes before the start of treatment, after treatment and in cases where breast cancer has spread around the body, to understand the role of this protein at all different stages of the disease.
What difference will this project make?
Understanding the role of HORMAD1 could potentially lead to the development of a therapy which targets this protein, creating more tailored treatment options for people with triple negative breast cancer.
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