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Study from Yale Cancer Biologists Identifies Chromatin Regulator WDR5 as Possible Drug Target in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

August 31, 2022

A new study from Yale Cancer Center scientists has identified the chromatin regulator WDR5 as a possible new drug target in triple negative breast cancer. The research was published online in eLife.

Researchers used anin vivogenetic screen to identify the gene WDR5 as an actionable epigenetic regulator required for metastatic progression in models of triple negative breast cancer. They found that knockdown of that regulator in breast cancer cells independently impaired their ability to form tumors, as well as metastasize.

The study found that, consistently, pharmacological inhibition or deterioration of WDR5 impedes the ability of breast cancer cells to grow. And a combination of WDR5-targeting with mTOR inhibitors leads to potent suppression of the breast cancer cells.

Qin Yan, PhD, Professor of Pathology at Yale School of Medicine and one of study’s principal authors, said these results reveal novel therapeutic strategies to treat metastatic breast cancer – a major cause of cancer-related deaths in women with few effective therapies – that may contribute to improved clinical management of this patient population.

Among the other Yale authors of this study are Jocelyn F. Chen, PhD, Don Nguyen, PhD, Huacui Chen, PhD, Emily Wingrove, PhD, Meiling Zhang, PhD, Anna Arnal Estape, PhD, Minghui Zhao, MS, Amer Balabaki, Wenxue Li, PhD, Lok Hei Chan, PhD, Ethan D. Krop, and Yansheng Liu, PhD. The lead author, Wesley Cai, earned his PhD at Yale.

Among the organizations that helped fund this study were the National Science Foundation, the National Cancer Institute, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs and the Yale Cancer Center.

Submitted by Terence P. Corcoran on August 31, 2022