Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Therapy and Diagnosis of Cancer and Autoimmune Diseases

Technology #3732

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Yang Liu
Managed By
Tiefei Dong
Senior Licensing Specialist, Life Sciences 734-763-5332
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending
FOXP3 is an X-linked breast cancer suppressor gene and an important repressor of the HER-2/ErbB2 oncogene.
Cell, Volume 129. Page 1275. 2007


Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, and the second most common cause of cancer death in women in the United States. Early detection and new treatments, as well as discovery of abnormalities in several genes involved in the development and progression of breast cancer, have improved the survival rates of breast cancer patients. Analysis of such genes may be a predictor of susceptibility or risk, and may lead to tailored treatments. For example, the HER-2 gene which encodes for a protein involved in the growth and spread of breast cancer cells is highly expressed in about 25-30% of patients. Using this knowledge, highly efficacious treatments can be tailored to particular patient populations.


Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered that FOXP3, an X-linked gene, is an important regulator of the HER-2/ErbB2 oncogene. FOXP3 gene is a member of the forkhead/winged helix transcription factor family, whose germ line mutations cause lethal autoimmune diseases in males. The researchers commonly observed deletion, functionally significant somatic mutations, and down-regulation of the FOXP3 gene in human breast cancer samples, which significantly correlated with HER-2/ErbB2 over-expression. They have demonstrated that expression of FOXP3 in cancer cells greatly reduced the growth of cancer, while rapid induction of FOXP3 expression correlated to rapid cell death of cancer cell lines. This invention describes specific methods for the treatment of cancer by inducing expression of FoxP3 in cancer cells and/or in patients with autoimmune diseases.

Applications and Advantages


  • Prognostic analysis or treatment of breast cancers using FOXP3 as a target
  • Development of therapeutics using FOXP3 as a target


  • Given the significant role of HER-2 in breast cancer pathogenesis and wide-spread defects of FOXP3 locus, FOXP3 is expected to be an important suppressor for human breast cancer