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Mayo Clinic-led Team Identifies Master Switch for Cancer-Causing HER2 Protein

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Herceptin has been touted as a wonder drug for women with HER2-positive breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease that is fueled by excess production of the HER2 protein. However, not all of these patients respond to the drug, and many who do respond eventually acquire resistance.

A team of researchers led by Mayo Clinic has found a promising way to circumvent this obstacle. They identified a small site in the HER2 protein that enables it to form a molecular switch that sets off a cascade of events that turn normal cells cancerous. The researchers showed that disrupting this site can stem the growth of breast cancer cells, even more effectively than drugs currently used in the clinic. Their study is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“This study is the first to look at the specific sequences for dimerization of HER2 as a possible anti-cancer target,” says the study’s senior author Ruth Lupu, Ph.D. (LABM ’08), a professor of experimental pathology and laboratory medicine and biochemistry and molecular biology at Mayo Clinic. “This finding could be beneficial not only for breast cancer, but also for other cancers with abnormal HER2 levels, such as ovarian, stomach and prostate cancer.”

Read more on the Mayo Clinic News Network.  This article was originally posted on April 28, 2015. 

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