(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Typically the changes some cancerous tumors undergo can make the disease more difficult to treat. An example of this is when a breast cancer tumor becomes less receptive to estrogen, making anti-estrogen therapies less effective treatments. An Australian study is helping to discover more about how this change occurs, possibly opening the door to new breast cancer treatments.


 Prior to the new study the transcription factor ELF5 was proven to be the cause behind certain cells in the breast developing into estrogen-receptor-negative cells, which produce milk during pregnancy. Because of this ELF5's transformative abilities, researchers decided to test whether the transcription factor could turn a tumor into an estrogen-insensitive tumor.


"This work tells us that cancers which become refractory to anti-estrogen treatment often do so by elevating their levels of ELF5 and becoming functionally estrogen receptor negative," Chris Ormandy, a professor at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.


Study researchers also demonstrated that altering the subtype of breast cancer is plausible through the manipulation of the transcription factor.


Now knowing how these transformations take place also led researchers to believe that the information could assist others in creating breast cancer treatments that manipulate women's levels of ELF5.


Source: PLOS Biology, 27 December 2012