Targeting growth hormone signal transduction in breast cancer

Project Objective
One of the most successful strategies for treating breast cancer has been the use of humanised monoclonal antibodies to target secreted growth factors or cell surface receptors whose function has been upregulated in the tumour. However, there is a need for new treatments. We have evidence to indicate that an approach that targets human growth hormone could be an effective therapeutic strategy for treating breast cancer. Growth hormone expression in human breast tumours is associated with reduced survival in patients. In addition, we have shown that inhibiting growth hormone delays tumour regrowth following radiotherapy. We aim to generate a therapeutic monoclonal antibody which inhibits the cancer promoting actions of growth hormone, for clinical applications to treat breast cancer.

Through this project Jo and the team have generated a new drug which effectively inhibits the growth-promoting actions of growth hormone (GH) on cancer cells. This inhibitor would be a significant advance in not just breast cancer but also to understand GH signalling in other cancers: colon, prostate, melanoma, endometrial and liver. Ongoing studies will characterise these antibodies further and will provide preclinical evidence to support subsequent clinical development of this drug for clinical applications to treat breast cancer. We anticipate that successful development of a novel anti-growth hormone therapeutic will lead to clinical trials, and will ultimately benefit cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy through increased survival rates.

HOST INVESTIGATOR: University of Auckland