A team of researchers has identified a strategy to target human breast cancer stem cells. They found that inhibiting the cell-surface protein CXCR1 decreased tumor growth and metastasis in mice xenotransplanted with human breast cancer cells.
The study is published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation in a paper titled “CXCR1 blockade selectively targets human breast cancer stem cells in vitro and in xenografts.” The group included researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Inserm, and Institut Paoli-Calmettes.
The scientists used either an antibody or a small molecule known as repertaxin to suppress CXCR1. This selectively depleted the cancer stem cell population in two human breast cancer cell lines in vitro. Loss of the cancer stem cells was followed by extensive death of many of the remaining tumor cells. Importantly, treatment with repertaxin had similar effects in mice xenotransplanted with human breast cancer cells.
The authors therefore suggest that strategies that target CXCR1, the soluble protein that binds to it, and the signaling pathways downstream of it might provide a good approach to deplete breast cancer stem cells.