Breast Cancer Therapy

Breast cancer is the most common form of invasive cancer among women with 1 in 8 women likely to develop the disease during their lifetime.  While rare among men, it is the second leading cause of death for women after heart disease.  In the United States alone, nearly 250,000 new cases of breast cancer are reported each year.

Fortunately, significant advances in treatment for breast cancer along with numerous social campaigns have had a positive impact on survival and awareness.  If detected early enough, breast cancer can now be treated using a variety of methods such as:  chemotherapy, mastectomy (partial or total removal of the breast), and/or hormone therapy.

Antiestrogens, in particular, have been quite effective in treating breast cancer.  These drugs prevent cancer cells from replicating by counteracting the effects of estradiol, a hormone which stimulates cell growth in breast tissue when bound to estrogen receptors (ERs).  Tamoxifen and other antiestrogens work by binding to estrogen receptors (ERs) in cancer cells.  Other drugs treat breast cancer by blocking aromatase (ARM) in order to stop the production of estradiol.

Recent studies also show that Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG), which helps transport estradiol from the bloodstream into cells, is also directly involved in breast cancer.  It is thought that blocking SHBG will stop further development of breast cancer by preventing estradiol from entering cancer cells.

Therefore, combination therapy, which involves a ‘cocktail’ of ‘anti-estrogens’ and aromatase inhibitors, is more effective at treating breast cancer than using either of these types of drugs alone.  Yet, there are no drugs for breast cancer which target SHBG.

DAYA is dedicated to discovering a new lead molecule which combats breast cancer more effectively by using a unique tri-functional approach.  Since ER, ARM, and SHBG are remarkably similar in size and shape, this single molecule will bind to all three proteins in order to do the following:  (a) prevent estradiol from binding to ER, (b) block the production of estradiol by ARM, and (c) block estradiol transportation into tumor cells by SHBG.  Therefore, a single drug with all of these features will have considerable economic and clinical advantages over the ‘cocktail’ approach currently in use.