The study questions whether reliance on insufficiently-validated antibodies has led science down a dead-end path since the discovery of estrogen receptor beta (ESR2) in the 1990s.
Cecilia Williams, a researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and the joint research center, Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab), says the beta receptor’s discovery changed our understanding of estrogen signaling. It also raised hopes for a new endocrine treatment to complement the success of estrogen-blocking drugs such as Tamoxifen.
These therapies target estrogen receptor alpha (ESR1), which was the first and most important biomarker in breast cancer, and can predict which patients respond to anti-estrogen treatment.
But about half of such breast cancer tumors do not respond to anti-estrogen therapies, or they develop resistance over time, Williams says. “It has been thought that ERS2 had an opposite effect to ERS1, and that the beta receptor should not be blocked, but instead activated in breast cancer. This would supposedly improve survival.
Dr. Stegall’s Comments: Immunotherapy is all the rage in cancer research right now. If we can help the immune system better recognize cancer, and thus kill it, and do so without harming the body’s healthy cells, then we should be able to cure cancer – right? Well, it isn’t that simple. The immune system doesn’t work in isolation, and in addition, it is very possible to OVERstimulate the immune system – leading to inflammation and autoimmune conditions. We must be very careful in trying to find a proper immune system balance.