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A newly-identified molecule that affects the protein within the estrogen-receptors on tumour cells just might be the key to fighting breast cancer. This is the preliminary conclusion a team of researchers at Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center have come to in a discovery that will no doubt give hope to patients with the life-threatening illness.

“Its unique mechanism of action overcomes the limitations of current therapies,” Dr Ganesh Raj, professor at the adjunct university in Texas, told PTI recently.

Around 80% of breast cancers are referred to as estrogen receptive (or ER positive) and the usual treatments are either surgery, chemotherapy or hormone therapy. However, despite medical advances in the area, patients with stage-3 cancer have a survival rate of 72% after a 5-year-period., according to the American Cancer Society.

The new molecule is called ERX-11 and it acts by blocking proteins that interact with the estrogen receptor. Traditional hormone therapy prevent binding between the two but it is only a temporary solution in some cases as cancer cells can multiply following the therapy.

ER-positive tumours are an intensely studied field and the underlying biology can pave the way for much research for scientists. Just recently, a study by a group from the University of Oslo found reasons for why some tumours become ER-positive and others not. These explanations can help doctors provide more tailored treatments in the hope of eradicating the cancer.

Breast cancer is a disease that affects thousands of women in India and is the most prevalent cancer among women. In 2012, over 70,000 women lost their lives to the disease and a number of indicators can predict the likelihood of them getting the cancer. Despite many groundbreaking developments, many women still fall victim to cancers that return after hormone therapy. It is hoped that the future of protein-protein interactions that allow for more vigorous treatments can offer a new hope for patients with breast cancer.

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