A combination of three drugs that could treat triple negative breast cancer has been tested by scientists at the John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
Women with such cancers lack all three hormone receptors - estrogen, progesterone and human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) and currently, treatments for triple negative breast cancers are limited to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, which provide some improvements but overall poor prognoses.
In the new study, Johns Hopkins scientists began with a drug called Entinostat, which blocks an enzyme that unfolds DNA, providing regulatory molecules access to genes within and also reactivates a gene called retinoic acid receptor-beta (RAR-B).
Thereafter, they added a drug called All Trans Retinoic Acid (ATRA), related to Vitamin A, which binds a protein made by the reactivated RAR-B gene.
Together, the ATRA drug and RAR-B gene act as a brake on cancer cell growth. The scientists completed the drug cocktail with conventional chemotherapy using either low doses of doxorubicin or paclitaxel.
The scientists noted that using these drugs individually have some impact on the tumour but the combined impact tips the scale in favor of killing more cells.
Tests on laboratory-cultured cells showed that the triple combo therapy halted the growth of multiple triple negative breast cancer cell lines more effectively than any one of the treatments alone.