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Stanford researchers achieve breakthrough in breast cancer studies

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 4 months ago

A recent study conducted by researchers at Stanford University has shed light on the role of a protein called ENPP1 in breast cancer. The study, titled "ENPP1 is an innate immune checkpoint of the anticancer cGAMP-STING pathway in breast cancer," was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

ENPP1 is a multifaceted enzyme that is involved in various biological processes, including bone health and insulin signaling. However, recent studies have suggested that ENPP1 may also play a significant role in cancer by interacting with the body's immune response to tumors.

The Stanford researchers found that high levels of ENPP1 in tumors were associated with a poor prognosis. This is because ENPP1 can break down a molecule called cGAMP, which is crucial for activating the STING pathway, a part of the body's innate immune system that helps fight cancer. By breaking down cGAMP, ENPP1 weakens the immune system's ability to attack cancer cells.

The study also discovered that mice genetically modified to have a version of ENPP1 that cannot degrade cGAMP were more resistant to breast cancer metastasis. Similarly, breast cancer patients with lower levels of ENPP1 responded better to immunotherapy drugs, showing no signs of metastasis for up to seven years.

These findings have important implications for cancer treatment. By targeting ENPP1, it may be possible to enhance the effectiveness of immunotherapies and improve patient outcomes. The researchers believe that ENPP1 could emerge as a promising cancer target in the near future.

Dr. Lingyin Li, the lead researcher on the study, explained that ENPP1 inhibitors led to a clear survival advantage in animal models, particularly in preventing metastasis in breast cancer. She emphasized the importance of further research to better understand the molecular mechanisms of cGAMP-STING biology and to inform clinical development.

Given the growing evidence of ENPP1's role in breast and other cancers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are likely to show increasing interest in developing inhibitors of ENPP1 for clinical and late preclinical studies. Some companies, such as Roche, have already begun exploring ENPP1 inhibitors in their research.

Overall, the study on ENPP1 and its role in breast cancer represents a significant advancement in our understanding of cancer biology. The findings highlight the potential for targeting ENPP1 to improve cancer treatment outcomes and pave the way for future research and development in this field.

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