Science & Technology

UW Research Looks To Make Breast Cancer Treatment More Effective

Dr. Wei Xu and her graduate student Hao Zeng analyze a Western blot,  used to identify specific proteins such as CTR9. 

New research from the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center could lead to better treatment for the most common form of breast cancer.

About 70 percent of breast cancer cases depend on the hormone estrogen to grow.

Patients with the disease usually take a drug called Tamoxifen. It’s a kind of anti-estrogen. But according to UW cancer researcher Wei Xu, while Tamoxifen stops tumor growth at first, “Approximately 50 percent of the responsive tumor eventually relapses due to the development of Tamoxifen resistance.”

Xu and her research team discovered that Tamoxifen resistance is caused by a molecule called CTR9. The more CTR9, the less effective treatment will be.

“If you get rid of CTR9, now you will see the cell will be sensitized to Tamoxifen,” said Xu.

The next step for Xu’s team is to develop an effective way of extracting CTR9 from human cancer cells.