Researchers at Howard University report that manipulating triple-negative breast cancer cells so they re-express estrogen receptors may be possible, making this type of breast cancer vulnerable to conventional anti-estrogen therapy. Experiments using cell cultures suggest the approach represents an exciting new lead in the fight against triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) with a new class of compounds.

Most breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, progesterone, or HER2 receptors. However, as many as 20% of breast cancers are negative for all 3 receptors. Triple-negative breast cancer is often more aggressive than other types of breast cancer and is less responsive to existing treatments. Therefore, new treatment options are urgently needed.

In a poster presentation at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 2017 Annual Meeting, Anastasia Robinson, of Howard University, presented findings that suggest triple-negative breast cancers could be made susceptible to anti-estrogen therapy through prior systemic treatment.

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Robinson’s laboratory developed a novel dichloro-naphthoquinone analog (DCNQ) that is associated with marked antitumorigenic activities and significantly inhibits mitogen activated kinase (MAPK) signaling. The latest round of testing demonstrated this novel compound may offer a model for treating triple-negative breast cancers. 


1. Reversal of the ERα negative receptor in human breast cancer cells by dichloro-napthoquinone analog. Poster presented at: American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Annual Meeting at EB 2017; April 22-26, 2017; Chicago, IL.