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Therapeutic targets in triple negative breast cancer
  1. Sandra A O'Toole1,2,3,4,
  2. Jane M Beith3,5,
  3. Ewan K A Millar2,6,7,8,
  4. Richard West3,9,
  5. Anna McLean3,
  6. Aurelie Cazet2,
  7. Alexander Swarbrick2,4,
  8. Samantha R Oakes2,4
  1. 1Department of Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Cancer Research Division & Kinghorn Cancer Centre, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Australia 
  4. 4St Vincent's Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, University of NSW, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5Department of Medical Oncology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, New South Wales,  Australia
  6. 6Department of Anatomical Pathology, South Eastern Area Laboratory Service, St George Hospital, Kogarah, New South Wales, Australia
  7. 7School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Western Sydney, Campbelltown, New South Wales, Australia
  8. 8Faculty of Medicine, University of NSW, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
  9. 9Department of Surgery, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sandra A O'Toole, Department of Tissue Pathology and Diagnostic Oncology, Building 94, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Missenden Road, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia; Sandra.O'


Outcomes have improved significantly for many women diagnosed with breast cancer. For the heterogeneous group of tumours lacking expression of the oestrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors, ‘triple negative’ breast cancers (TNBC), the prognosis overall has remained quite poor. When TNBC recurs, there is often little response to chemotherapy, and there are a few treatment options in this setting. Thus, there is an urgent clinical need to identify new therapeutic targets in order to improve the outlook for these patients. This review highlights the most promising therapeutic targets identified through new sequencing technologies, as well as through studies of apoptosis. We also present mounting evidence that the developmental signalling pathways Wnt/β-catenin, NOTCH and Hedgehog play an important role in the pathogenesis and progression of TNBC with new therapeutic approaches inhibiting these pathways in advanced preclinical studies or early clinical trials.


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