Treating Breast Cancer by Targeting the mTOR Pathway

July 30, 2014

Breast cancer can develop from a number of irregularities, and many methods of therapy have been researched to target the pathways of these irregularities to try and treat breast cancer. The PI3K/mTOR pathway is an example of one such pathway that, if dysregulated, can lead to breast cancer.

mTOR is a regulatory protein that contributes to cell growth, proliferation, and protein synthesis1. If a cell requires more nutrients to grow, growth factors are sent to stimulate the mTOR pathway. This pathway responds to the presence of growth factors, and increases the intake of nutrients into the affected cell3. The mTOR pathway is regulated by a number of mechanisms to control the growth of cells, to ensure cells do not grow too much1.

In normal cells, the mTOR pathway is very important to the development and proliferation of many cell types. However, mutations of the genes that control the regulation of this pathway can cause an amplification or reduction of mTOR expression3. Dysregulation of this pathway has been attributed to the mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s disease, aging, diabetes, and cancer2,3.

Many examples of breast cancer have been attributed to overactive mTOR signaling. Because of this, new treatments are being developed to inhibit the mTOR pathway, in an attempt to stop the growth of certain breast cancers. Many inhibitors such as, Lapatinib, Perifosine, an Everolimus, have been investigated in clinical trials and some have shown real promise as viable treatments for breast cancer2.

Using modified inhibitors as anti-cancer treatments has been shown to be effective in conjunction with chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. It has also been shown to be less toxic than other anti-cancer drugs, because the mTOR inhibitors usually specifically target the mTOR  pathway and have little impact on other processes2.

Be on the lookout for more news concerning targeted therapy of breast cancer, as it is a promising field of research that has contributed to the increased rate of survival in recent years.

For more information on the mTOR pathway visit this website



  1. Benjamin, Don, et al. “Rapamycin passes the torch: a new generation of mTOR inhibitors.” Nature reviews Drug discovery 10.11 (2011): 868-880.
  2. Ghayad, Sandra E., and Pascale A. Cohen. “Inhibitors of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway: new hope for breast cancer patients.” Recent patents on anti-cancer drug discovery 5.1 (2010): 29-57.
  3. Markman, Ben, Rodrigo Dienstmann, and Josep Tabernero. “Targeting the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway–beyond rapalogs.” Oncotarget 1.7 (2010): 530.


Picture Source:

Advani, S. H. “Targeting mTOR pathway: A new concept in cancer therapy.” Indian journal of medical and paediatric oncology: official journal of Indian Society of Medical & Paediatric Oncology 31.4 (2010): 132.

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