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Cancer Treat Rev. 2013 Aug;39(5):541-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2012.12.001. Epub 2013 Jan 12.

Targeting triple negative breast cancer: is p53 the answer?

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Sandro Pitigliani Medical Oncology Unit, Department of Oncology, Hospital of Prato, Prato, Italy.


Triple negative breast cancers, which are defined by lack of expression of estrogen, progesterone, or HER2 receptors, represent approximately 15% of all breast cancers, although they account for a much higher proportional of breast cancer mortality. This is due both to their innate aggressive biological characteristics, but also to lack of effective therapies. Conventional chemotherapy is currently the only treatment option, thus there is a critical need to find new and effective targeted therapies in this disease. While investigation of agents such as poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors and EGFR inhibitors continues, results from recent clinical trials indicate that these therapies are not as active in sporadic triple negative breast cancers as initially hoped. It is important therefore to consider other emerging therapeutic agents. Mutation in p53 is found in the vast majority of triple negative breast cancers, and as such is a target of particular interest. Within this review, several agents with potential activity against aberrant p53 signaling have been considered, as a novel approach to finding an effective targeted therapy for this aggressive breast cancer subtype.

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