On the seabed of Svalbard, Norwegian researchers have found a molecule that kills the most aggressive type of breast cancer cells.
Talking to NRK, associate professor at the Norwegian School of Fisheries, UiT Norway’s Arctic University Kine Østnes Hansen said that it could be a ground breaking finding.
-We discovered that this molecule selectively killed cancer cells, Hansen says.
The molecule was part of a so-called hydroid. It is a collection of single cells, which have joined together in a plant-like form and are stuck on the seabed.
In order to find out which substances were in the hydroid, they tested several different cell lines.
-Some of these cell lines were completely unaffected, while others were very affected, even at low concentrations, says Hansen.
The largest impact was the samples against a special type of breast cancer cells including triple-negative breast cancer.
Triple-negative breast cancer is cancer that tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and excess HER2 protein.
These results mean the growth of the cancer is not fueled by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, or by the HER2 protein. So, triple-negative breast cancer does not respond to hormonal therapy medicines or medicines that target HER2 protein receptors.
About 10-20% of breast cancers are triple-negative breast cancers. For doctors and researchers, there is intense interest in finding new medications that can treat this kind of breast cancer.
The molecule the Norwegian researchers have now found controls the triple-negative breast cancer cell division.
-If it can be developed into a medicine, it will be a completely new treatment alternative for a group of cancer patients who now have limited treatment options.
Now researchers at UiT are working hard to see if it is possible to make medicine from the molecule they have found. According to Kine Østnes Hansen, they firmly believe that the molecule they have found can become a medicine one day.