Rogue Protein Facilitates Breast Cancer Metastases

David Gallego Ortega, PhD Group Leader, Tumour Development Group Cancer Division Garvan Institute of Medical Research Conjoint Lecturer, St Vincent’s Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW, Australia National Breast Cancer Foundation and Cure Cancer Foundation Australia Fellow

Dr. David Gallego Ortega PhD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David Gallego Ortega, PhD
Group Leader, Tumour Development Group Cancer Division
Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Conjoint Lecturer, St Vincent’s Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW, Australia

National Breast Cancer Foundation and Cure Cancer Foundation Australia Fellow 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Ortega: We have identified a protein that ‘goes rogue’ in breast cancer. The protein, called Elf5, ‘tricks’ the immune system producing inflammation so that the immune cells now help the breast cancer cells to spread throughout the body.

Cancer spread, or metastasis, is the ultimate cause of death of breast cancer patients, so we are very excited about our discovery because it opens the door to explore anti-inflammatory drugs that can be combined with existing therapies.

We have found that luminal breast cancer patients that present high levels of Elf5 progress earlier in their disease. The Luminal subtype is the most common type of breast cancer, so these therapies will potentially benefit to 2/3 of all breast cancer patients.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Ortega: We had previously implicated Elf5 in resistance to breast cancer therapy – so, we now think Elf5 drives two aspects of disease progression in breast cancer patients, namely, resistance to therapy, and metastasis.

Drugs that target inflammatory cells have demonstrated incredible success for the treatment of patients with melanoma; with the identification of Elf5, we have now a biomarker to predict what breast cancer patients will potentially benefit of similar anti-inflammatory therapies.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Ortega: The next step is to work out what anti-inflammatory drugs will be suitable for these patients and test their efficiency reducing metastatic spread.

Citation:

PLoS Biol. 2015 Dec 30;13(12):e1002330. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002330. eCollection 2015.

ELF5 Drives Lung Metastasis in Luminal Breast Cancer through Recruitment of Gr1+ CD11b+ Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells.

Gallego-Ortega D1,2, Ledger A1, Roden DL1,2, Law AM1, Magenau A1,2, Kikhtyak Z1, Cho C1, Allerdice SL1, Lee HJ1, Valdes-Mora F1,2, Herrmann D1,2, Salomon R1, Young AI1, Lee BY1, Sergio CM1, Kaplan W3, Piggin C1, Conway JR1, Rabinovich B4, Millar EK1,5,6, Oakes SR1,2, Chtanova T1, Swarbrick A1,2, Naylor MJ1,7, O’Toole S1,7, Green AR8, Timpson P1,2, Gee JM9, Ellis IO8, Clark SJ1,2, Ormandy CJ1,2.

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David Gallego Ortega, PhD (2016). Rogue Protein Facilitates Breast Cancer Metastases