Just as the body can become resistant to antibiotics, certain methods of killing cancer tumors can end up creating resistant tumor cells. But a University of Central Florida professor has found a protein present in several types of cancer, including breast and ovarian cancer, which could be helpful in preventing tumors from coming back.
The protein, KLF8, appears to protect tumor cells from drugs aimed at killing them and even aid the tumor cells' ability to regenerate.
"All cells have a DNA-repair mechanism," explained Jihe Zhao, a medical doctor and researcher who in the past few months has published several articles related to the protein in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (http://www.jbc.org/content/287/52/43720) and Oncogene (http://www.nature.com/onc/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/onc2012545a.html), among others. "That's why we survive constant DNA damage threats. But KLF8 is overexpressed in specific cancers, such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The thought is that if we can stop it from switching on, we may be able to stop the tumors from coming back as part of therapy. We still need to do a lot more research, but it is plausible."
There are between 2.5 million and 2.7 million women who have breast cancer in the United States and 10 to 20 percent will experience a recurrence, according to the American Cancer Society. Current treatment options, depending on the stage of cancer, include surgical removal followed by chemotherapy using a combination of cancer killing drugs. Each year about 22,200 women are also diagnosed with ovarian cancer.