New Molecule Discovered to Help Drug-Resistant Breast Cancer

08-16-2017 8:42 AM

Dr. Ganesh Raj, left, Dr. Amy Li, and colleagues have identified a molecule
that shuts down estrogen-sensitive breast cancer in a new way.

Finally! There’s hope for women facing certain drug-resistant breast cancers. 

This time next year, researchers hope to have the new drug ready for clinical trials.

UT Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center researchers announced last week they have found a first-in-class molecule that can prevent breast cancer growth — even when traditional hormone therapies stop working.

Some 40,000 women each year experience drug-resistant breast cancer, according to Dr. Ganesh Raj, Professor of Urology and Pharmacology at UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This new molecule — dubbed ERX-11 — has tested well in the lab so far. Over the next year, researchers will get the molecule formulated for human therapy in clinical trials.

“ERX-11 is a fundamentally different, new class of agents for estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer,” said Dr. Raj. “It overcomes the limitations of current therapies.”

Researchers say the ERX-11 can be taken orally — rather than by infusion — which is a huge advantage to patients.  If you’re not familiar with infusion therapy — it means sitting in a doctor’s office or hospital for some time getting your medicine through an IV.

Unfortunately, ERX-11 would not be of help for triple negative breast cancer.

How it works

ERX-11 prevents cancer cells from multiplying by blocking molecules that attach to the estrogen receptors.

“Blocking such protein interactions has been a dream of cancer researchers for decades,” said Dr. David Mangelsdoft, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology.

What it means for the future

“This could be the first-line breast cancer therapy down the line. It could even lead to new treatments for other hormone-sensitive cancers,” Dr. Raj says. “It could even lead to new treatments for other hormone-sensitive cancers.”

The full research study appears in the online journal of eLife.

 You can read the full press release here.

Stacy Graves is a contributing editor of The Mary Kay Foundation℠ blog and website. She’s worked in some type of communication role for Mary Kay since 1994 — loving every minute. She’s passionate about everything Mary Kay. You can connect with her by email (, her website or LinkedIn.