New target for breast cancer medications

New insights with significant therapeutic potential

22-May-2024
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The mammary gland is a complex tissue comprising a variety of cell types. Their proper functioning is crucial for the health of the breast. Among the numerous factors regulating cell homeostasis in the mammary gland, research has recently focused more intensely on the transcription factor TRPS1. A new study now provides important insights into the role of TRPS1 in maintaining luminal progenitor cells in the mammary gland. The senior author is Björn von Eyss, who leads the research group "Transcriptional Control of Tissue Homeostasis" at the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute in Jena. The article "TRPS1 maintains luminal progenitors in the mammary gland by repressing SRF/MRTF activity" has now been published in "breast cancer Research". The study was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the DFG, and the German Cancer Aid.

TRPS1 is a gene that plays a crucial role in maintaining certain cells in the mammary gland. It suppresses specific proteins, thus contributing to the control of the differentiation of these cells. Previously, von Eyss' research group elucidated the role of TRPS1 in breast cancer, but the function of TRPS1 in normal tissue remained largely unclear. Since TRPS1 is essential for the growth of many types of breast cancer, scientists have now investigated whether inhibiting TRPS1 could be a strategy for future therapies. In a mouse model, they examined how the organism responds to the inhibition of TRPS1 throughout the body – aiming to model a therapy against TRPS1.

The study by the Jena researchers revealed that TRPS1 could serve as a new target for drugs against breast cancer: "The mice in which TRPS1 was knocked out showed no significant changes, indicating that potential drugs inhibiting TRPS1 would likely be well tolerated," summarizes Björn von Eyss. In addition, the team led by first author Marie Tollot found that TRPS1 is essential for maintaining luminal progenitor cells. This is an important finding, as it is now believed that this cell type is the origin of most breast tumors and this cell population increases significantly with age. Von Eyss adds: "In a next step, specific substances could be developed to influence the function of TRPS1. Especially since it is already established that TRPS1 is safe in terms of organ toxicity, meaning it has no harmful effects on organs when inhibited in the body. This is an important aspect in evaluating the safety and potential applications of TRPS1 in medical research and therapy."

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