- A compound that may help prevent the spread of triple-negative breast cancer to the brain has been identified.
- This compound is edelfosine.
- Edelfosine is an FDA-approved investigational drug for leukemia.
An investigational drug compound for leukemia patients has been identified that may be used to treat triple negative breast cancer once it spreads to the brain, research at the Houston Methodist finds.
The compound edelfosine
The research team found that the compound edelfosine may prevent cancer cells from spreading, or metastasizing. Edelfosine is an investigational leukemia
treatment which has also been used in clinical research for primary brain tumors.
‘This study finds a compound that may block the spread of triple negative breast cancer to the brain. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) exhibits more traits possessed by cancer stem cells (CSC) than other breast cancer subtypes and is more likely to develop brain metastases.’
The researchers injected triple negative breast cancer
stem cells from patients into mice. The cancer stem cells did not grow once they metastasized to the brain after treating them with this compound.
"This compound stopped the cancer cells from communicating with brain cells as they traveled from the breast to the brain. Repurposing a drug compound to prevent the spread of cancer could be a game-changer in the prevention and treatment of metastatic brain disease," said Stephen T. Wong, Ph.D., P.E., chair of the systems medicine and bioengineering at Houston Methodist Research Institute and one of the corresponding authors.
Triple negative breast cancer
triple negative breast cancer
cells adapt much more readily once they've moved to the brain and patients usually have shorter survival time after diagnosis of brain metastasis. Triple negative remains the most challenging type of breast cancer to treat, and tends to show more traits possessed by cancer stem cells than other breast cancer subtypes.
"Viable treatment options for brain metastases are still an unmet need," said Hong Zhao, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of systems medicine and bioengineering at Houston Methodist Research Institute and co-corresponding author. "Since edelfosine is already FDA-approved, we want to try and move this compound into a phase II clinical study for metastatic brain cancer in the next few years."
In 2011, Wong and his lab have applied big data mathematical and bioinformatics models to screen for existing FDA-approved medications that might be effective against cancer stem cells.
They have identified the anti-malarial drug chloroquine as a potential cancer stem cell killer. The group also discovered another compound that improves blood flow in damaged hearts and is also effective in treating locally advanced or metastatic triple negative when combined with chemotherapy. Both drugs are currently in clinical trials.
To see if edelfosine could be incorporated into future clinical research focused on other tumor sites such as lung, ovarian and pancreatic cancers is the next step for Wong and his team.
- Ding Ren, Xiaoping Zhu et al. Targeting Brain-Adaptive Cancer Stem Cells Prohibits Brain Metastatic Colonization of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer, Cancer Research DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-2994