A NEW cancer study in Glasgow could pave the way to a treatment to stop the growth of an aggressive form of breast cancer which is more common in younger women.
Scientists from the city's Beatson Institute for Cancer Research are set to investigate whether the drug devimistat could be used in patients with triple negative breast cancer.
More than 700 women a year in Scotland are diagnosed with this rarer form of the disease, but current treatment options are mostly limited to a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.
Younger women and black women also make up a disproportionate share of diagnoses.
It is thought that devimistat - which is already being explored as a possible therapy for pancreatic cancer and relapsed leukaemia - could target protein molecules known as PDH, which encourage breast cancer cells to spread other parts of the body where the disease becomes incurable.
The novel approach will be tested on mice in a trial funded by Breast Cancer Now.
Professor Sara Zanivan, who will lead the research, said it has the potential to "halt the growth of triple negative breast cancer".
She added: “We know that breast cancer cells communicate with other non-cancer cells nearby, which helps breast cancer tumours grow and survive.
"It’s really important that we continue to increase our understanding of this activity, as it may uncover much needed new ways to treat the disease."
Prof Zanivan previously discovered that the cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) found in triple negative breast cancer can support cancer cell growth by making high amounts of PDH.
CAFs are a type of non-cancer cell found in large numbers inside breast tumours which can generate molecules that influence the behaviour of cancer cells - for example, encouraging them to grow or to migrate to other organs.
The new study will explore how PDH in particular helps triple negative breast cancer cells to spread, and whether devimistat can be used to attack it.