Tag Archive | "Breast Cancer"

New drug for treatment of aggressive breast cancer found by Irish researchers

clinic-doctor-health-hospital-largeAs recently published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from Breast-Predict, may have found a new drug for the treatment of Triple-negative breast cancer. The drug APR-246, which will be tested in clinical trials to ensure its success, prevents the growth of Triple-negative breast cancer cells.

Breast- Predict is an Irish Cancer Society Collaborative Cancer Research Centre, which is located at St. Vincent’s Hospital and University College Dublin.

With more than 250 new cases of Triple-negative breast cancer diagnosed per year, mostly found among young women, this form of breast cancer ranks among the most aggressive. Furthermore, it accounts for one in six breast cancer cases in the world.

For most types of breast cancer, drugs, like Herceptin, or hormone therapies are being used, in order to attack three so called “Biomarkers”. However, these “Biomarkers” cannot be found in Triple-negative breast cancers, leaving chemotherapy as the only current treatment option.

But a major problem is that not everyone’s cells respond to this form of treatment. “While this will work well for some patients, others may find that their cancer cells don’t respond as well as might be hoped to chemo, leading to patients suffering the side effects without any of the desired outcomes,” explained Naoise Synott, the PhD University College Dublin student, who conducted the research.

At this point the drug APR-246 should be used in the future, which corrects a mutated p53 gene, that occurs in 80 percent of these breast cancers. By correcting this gene, the growth of the cancer can be stopped.

Although the survival rate of women with breast cancer has increased to 85%, in the last five years, the future does not look so bright, in view of cancer diseases. The number of people with cancer in Ireland is expected to double within the next 24 years.

The research project is supported by the Irish Cancer Society. Dr. Robert O’Connor, the Society’s Head of Research, did not only praise the finding as a “milestone”, but also declared that in consideration of the expected growing number of cancer patients, further research would be “vital if to tackle this growing epidemic of cancer”. According to O’Connor these research programs would ensure that “the most advanced personalised treatment options are available and that as many patients as possible thrive after their treatment”.


written by Isabel Riedel

Posted in Medical ResearchComments (0)

Breast cancer drug hope from leukaemia research

Leukaemia research may lead to new drugs for difficult-to-treat breast cancers, say scientists.

These types of tumours cannot be treated with the targeted drugs which have hugely improved survival.

A team in Glasgow says a faulty piece of DNA which causes leukaemia also has a role in some tumours and could help in research for new drugs.

Meanwhile, other researchers say they have taken tentative steps towards a blood test for breast cancer.

Oestrogen or progesterone positive breast cancers can be treated with hormone therapies such as Tamoxifen.

Another drug, Herceptin, works only on those tumours which are HER2-positive.

But around one in five breast cancers is “triple negative” meaning chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery are the only options.

A team at the University of Glasgow investigated the role of the RUNX1 gene, which is one of the most commonly altered genes in leukaemia.

However, they have now shown it is also active in the most deadly of triple negative breast cancers.

Tests on 483 triple negative breast cancers showed patients testing positive for RUNX1 were four times more likely to die as a result of the cancer than those without it.

The results were published in the journal PLoS One.

One of the researchers, Dr Karen Blyth, said: “This opens up the exciting possibility of using it [RUNX1] as a new target for treatments.”

She told the BBC: “First we need to prove this gene is causative to the cancer, if it is then what would happen if we did inhibit it?

“There’s a couple of drugs in development in the US to target this gene from a leukaemia point of view, if they work we can test it in breast cancer cells.”

However, the gene has a complex role. Normally it is vital for cell survival and plays a critical role in producing blood. However, depending on circumstances, it can either encourage or suppress tumours.

It means any use of a drug to target the gene might cause side-effects.

Dr Kat Arney, the science communications manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “There’s still so much we need to understand about triple negative breast cancers, as they can be harder to treat in some people.

“Almost two out of three women with breast cancer now survive their disease beyond 20 years.

“But more must be done and we urgently need more studies like these, particularly in lesser-understood forms of the disease, to build on the progress we’ve already made and save more lives.”

In a separate development, scientists at University College London think they have taken the first steps towards a blood test for breast cancer.

They found changes in the DNA of immune cells in the blood of women who were at high risk of breast cancer as they had inherited the BRCA1 risk gene.

Prof Martin Widschwendter, from UCL said: “Surprisingly, we found the same signature in large cohorts of women without the BRCA1 mutation and it was able to predict breast cancer risk several years before diagnosis.”

They think it could become the basis of a blood test.

Dr Matthew Lam, senior research officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “These results are definitely promising and we’re excited to learn how further research could build on these findings.”

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