Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) refers to any breast cancer that does not express the genes for estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and Her2/neu. TNBCs have a relapse pattern that is very different from hormone-positive breast cancers, and many hypothesize that there are subgroups of patients with treatment-resistant TNBC, which is initiated and maintained by cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSC are sometimes referred to as cancer initiating cells and despite decades of advances in breast cancer research and drug development, the battle against TNBC continues. TNBC is more common amongst minority women, particularly African Americans, and has a high re-occurrence and mortality rate (2-3X great versus nonminority populations). This CSC phenomenon may be a key factor of tumor relapse following therapy.
The CSC concept has recently been verified by three independent studies in mouse models of skin, intestine and brain tumors. However, animal models do not readily translate into humans. There is a desperate need for human models to test the efficacy of drugs regarding TNBC; all treatments do not work on all patients.
Genetic diversity has an effect on drug efficacy, and TNBC is no exception. Some drugs may treat the cancer, but long-term may cause more harm to the patient. For this reason there is a need for a human model that represents minority women with TNBC. Jeevan Biosciences focuses on just that, the creation of a cancer stem cell repository that is derived from tissue samples donated by genetically diverse women who have TNBC. The CSCs are removed from the tissue and categorized based on each person’s genetic makeup or profile. In other words, if a person is 70% African, and 30% European, their CSCs will be grouped and stored with like samples. Samples that are alike should have similar mutations and therefore similar genetic outcomes when it comes to cancer and their response to drug treatments.
These differences in DNA can be detected through a process called Next Generation Sequencing, and it will allow us to group these differences together and make a diagnostic test for women to determine which treatment is the best one for them. This is personalized medicine and will allow for physicians to select the best treatment for a TNBC patient, and potentially will reduce drug costs that are increased because of inappropriate treatments. We believe that our approach brings us closer to ending the fight against TNBC, but it requires human CSCs to create a better platform to allow researchers and drug development companies to developed more effective treatments.