A new study by scientists at the Yale Cancer Center has identified the chromatin regulator WDR5 as a possible new drug target in triple-negative breast cancer. The research has been published online in eLife.
The researchers used alivegenetic screening to identify the WDR5 gene as an actionable epigenetic regulator required for metastatic progression in triple negative breast cancer models. They found that inactivating this regulator in breast cancer cells independently impaired their ability to form tumors, as well as to metastasize.
The study found that consistently inhibiting or pharmacologically damaging WDR5 impairs the ability of breast cancer cells to grow. And a combination of WDR5 targeting with mTOR inhibitors leads to potent suppression of breast cancer cells.
Qin Yan, PhD, professor of pathology at the Yale School of Medicine and one of the study’s lead authors, said these findings reveal new therapeutic strategies to treat metastatic breast cancer – a leading cause of death related cancer in women with few effective therapies – which could contribute to better clinical management of this patient population.
Other Yale authors of this study include Jocelyn F. Chen, PhD, Don Nguyen, PhD, Huacui Chen, PhD, Emily Wingrove, PhD, Meiling Zhang, PhD, Anna Arnal Estape, PhD, Minghui Zhao, MS, Amer Balabaki , Wenxue Li, PhD, Lok Hei Chan, PhD, Ethan D. Krop, and Yansheng Liu, PhD. The lead author, Wesley Cai, received his doctorate from Yale.
Among the organizations that helped fund this study were the National Science Foundation, the National Cancer Institute, the Congressional-Directed Medical Research Programs, and the Yale Cancer Center.