Functional genomics for breast cancer drug target discovery

Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease that develops through a multistep process via the accumulation of genetic/epigenetic alterations in various cancer-related genes. Current treatment options for breast cancer patients include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy including conventional cytotoxic and molecular-targeted anticancer drugs for each intrinsic subtype, such as endocrine therapy and antihuman epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) therapy. However, these therapies often fail to prevent recurrence and metastasis due to resistance. Overall, understanding the molecular mechanisms of breast carcinogenesis and progression will help to establish therapeutic modalities to improve treatment.

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Fig: The MELK kinase is involved in several biological functions

The recent development of comprehensive omics technologies has led to the discovery of driver genes, including oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes, contributing to the development of molecular-targeted anticancer drugs. Here, we review the development of anticancer drugs targeting cancer-specific functional therapeutic targets, namely, MELK (maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase), TOPK (T-lymphokine-activated killer cell-originated protein kinase), and BIG3 (brefeldin A-inhibited guanine nucleotide-exchange protein 3), as identified through comprehensive breast cancer transcriptomics.

Yoshimaru, T., Nakamura, Y. & Katagiri, T. Functional genomics for breast cancer drug target discovery. J Hum Genet (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s10038-021-00962-6

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