Researchers have managed to generate multifunctional RNA nanoparticles that solve the problem of resistance to treatment in patients who suffer from breast cancer. The discovery could make existing treatments more effective in these patients.

The research used a nanodelivery system, which helps in effectively targeting HER2-positive breast cancer, thus stopping the production of the protein MED1. The effects of this success could be translated into a slower tumor growth. The treatment could also prevent this type of cancer from spreading in the body, while making cancer cells more responsive to treatment with tamoxifen.

Breast Cancer Treatment, Now More Efficient

The protein called MED1 is produced in much larger quantities in the cells of patients who suffer from breast cancer. Consequently, the elimination of this protein is associated with stopping tumor growth.

Patients who suffer from a HER2-positive breast cancer have a genetic mutation that allows more production of the HER2 protein. This mutation allows cancer to grow and spread. According to the researchers, the interaction between these two proteins is vital when trying to understand the way this type of breast cancer works and developing a method to treat it.

For the study, the researchers assembled RNA nanoparticles to target HER2 breast cancer and stop MED1 production. In their analyses, they discovered that the RNA nanoparticles had the capacity to selectively bind to the HER-2 tumors and consequently eliminate the expression of MED1. This nanodelivery system was found to be effective in slowing down tumor growth, reducing the spread of cancer, and making cancer cells receptive to taximofen treatment.

"In addition to their ability to greatly inhibit tumor growth and metastasis, these nanoparticles also led to a dramatic reduction in the stem cell content of breast tumors when combined with tamoxifen treatment in vivo," the researchers reported.

The research was published Dec. 14 in the American Chemical Society's ACS Nano journal, and led by Xiaoting Zhang, an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine's Department of Cancer Biology.

Breast Cancer - Responses To Different Treatments

According to the researchers, cancer stem cells play a role not only in the recurrence and spread of breast cancer tumors but also in resistance to therapy. Eliminating these cells, therefore, will allow for a better treatment plan for people with breast cancer.

Aside from the nanodelivery system, other studies on the topic of breast cancer suggest that a different number of factors contribute to overcoming the illness. Among these, having social connections has been found to be critical for the body's response to the disease. However, not all kinds of social connections benefit women who suffer from breast cancer.

"The types of social ties that mattered for women with breast cancer differed by socio-demographic factors including race/ethnicity, age and country of origin," noted Candyce Kroenke, the study's lead author.

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