Narrator: This is Science Today.
For thousands of breast cancer patients, the drug tamoxifen has been something
of a miracle worker, shrinking tumors and inhibiting cancer growth. But over
time, many of these patients acquire resistance to the drug, reducing its
effectiveness. Oncologist Pamela Munster and a team of researchers at the
University of California, San Francisco, has discovered how this resistance
occurs and a potential way to overcome it.
Munster: For many years we
thought that tumors have certain mutations that makes them resistant to drugs.
But what we learned is tumors can also develop a way to escape drugs and
develop resistance and the way that these tumors do
this is by taking a gene and modifying it with what we call epigenetic
Narrator: This means that the tumors can change gene expression within a single generation, adapting quickly to the presence of a drug such as tamoxifen. Understanding this mechanism may lead to supplementing tamoxifen with drugs that can reprogram epigenetic modification. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.