An international team of researchers has found that adding a common hormone known as progesterone to a treatment could show down half of breast cancers and allow women with the condition to live much longer lives. What’s more, the drug is really cheap and has already been labeled safe by health officials.
The British and Australian experts working on the project did mention that their work is in the very early states, but they are hopeful that it will lead to better drugs that help cut down the growth of tumors, and stress the findings they’ve uncovered so far are highly significant for the medical community.
The study authors inform that hormones play a key role in breast cancer as they can hook up to “hormone receptors” found on the surface of the cancer and cause cancer cells to divide as a result. They used technology designed for advanced DNA reading in order to study this phenomenon.
For their study, the international team of researchers looked at multiple breast cancer cells which had been previously “rescued” so that the experts can carry out their tests. They grew breast cancer cells in the lab. Some had progesterone and some didn’t.
What they found was that progesterone seems to change the way estrogen receptor s interact with the DNA. It’s the same effect caused by Tamoxifen, one the best breast cancer drugs currently of the market. Every time the progesterone receptor is activated, it starts to redirect the estrogen receptor towards different DNA areas. As a result, a different set on genes get switched on and they slow down cell growth.
Unfortunately not all of the breast cancers are driven by hormones, however, roughly 75 percent (75%) of the patients diagnosed with breast cancer in fact positive for estrogen receptors, also known as ER+, and roughly 75 percent (75%) of these are also positive for progesterone receptors, also known as PR+. What this means is that the new study will most likely benefit half on the women suffering from breast cancer once
The study was published in the journal nature, and mentions that the research team plans on conducting clinical trials sometime in the close future.
Dr. Jason Carroll, senior author and cancer expert from Cambridge University (UK) gave a statement saying that the tests he and his colleagues have carried out so far make a very strong case for the drug to be taken into clinical trials as “the potential benefit of adding progesterone to drugs that target the oestrogen receptor […] could improve treatment for the majority of hormone-driven breast cancers”.
Carlos Caldas, another professor from Cambridge University (UK), gave a statement of his own informing that the drug appears to control tumors better and that clinical trials are essential in order to make sure.
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