The androgen receptor is a tumor suppressor in estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer
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Stimulating the activity of receptors of the hormone androgen is an effective strategy in treating roughly 80% of breast cancers.
The sex hormone estrogen stimulates breast development in adolescent girls. But abnormal activity of estrogen receptors also drives the dominant form of breast cancer. Hormone therapy is generally effective against this form of breast cancer, but tumours sometimes develop resistance to drugs.
The role of androgen and its receptors in breast cancer has been a lot more murky and there has been much debate about whether androgen receptors should be promoted or inhibited.
Now, a team led by researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia has found clear evidence that androgen and its receptors are powerful suppressors of breast tumours. They discovered that androgenic drugs were effective against tumours that had developed resistance to standard drugs and also gave better results when used in combination with standard drugs.
The findings have immediate implications for women with metastatic estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer, the researchers say.
- Nature Medicine 27, 310–320 (2021). doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-01168-7