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Patent of the Week: A Low Dose, Multi-Drug Cocktail for Breast Cancer Treatment

Patent of the Week

More than 150,000 breast cancer survivors were living with metastatic disease, three-fourths of whom were originally diagnosed with stage I-III, as of January 1, 2019, according to the American Cancer Society.

Patients with metastatic disease are primarily treated with chemotherapy, targeted therapy, hormonal therapy, and more recently, immunotherapy.

However, according to researchers – including Marsha Rosner, Charles B. Huggins Professor of Ben May Department of Cancer Research – “Previous approaches to treating metastatic disease have largely been ineffective at preventing resistance or recurrence.”

Proposing a new approach, the researchers describe targeting metastatic disease by examining the enzymes that suppress metastasis, specifically Raf kinase inhibitor proteins (RKIP), which regulate many signaling pathways within cells.

The investigators used a combined mass spectroscopy and genomic approach to identify an RKIP-regulated network of target kinases (enzymes) that are involved in the process whereby cancer spreads, or metastasizes. Then, they demonstrated that the simultaneous inhibition of four kinases from the network mimicked the anti-metastatic effects of RKIP.

The patent-pending invention is a four-drug cocktail that the researchers say can prevent metastasis, increase sensitivity in drug-resistant cancers, and reduce the risk of resistance compared to traditional monotherapy.

The method also can be used to treat triple negative breast cancer, which accounts for 10-20% of breast cancers and is more likely to metastasize and recur after treatment, according to the American Cancer Society.

To identify high-risk triple negative breast cancer patients, Rosner also has patented a gene expression signature that enables the use of targeted therapies.

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// Patent of the Week is a weekly column highlighting research and inventions from University of Chicago faculty.

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