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New Hope For Breast Cancer Treatment In 2017: Potential Drug Against Metastasis Identified

10 January 2017, 1:00 pm EST By Maricris Francisco Tech Times
Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered a class of drugs that could prevent cancer metastasis. The group found that CDK 4/6 inhibitors may be used to prevent breast cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. Pictured here are medical experts examining breast X-ray films.  ( Justin Sullivan | Getty Images )

Breast cancer metastasis may be prevented using a class of drugs that have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to the Mayo Clinic.

A group of Mayo Clinic researchers has identified that CDK 4/6 inhibitors can regulate a cancer metastasis protein and prevent the spread of triple-negative breast cancer. The announcement was published in the journal called Nature Communications.

More About Breast Cancer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. One out of eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. There were 250,000 breast cancer diagnoses made in the U.S. in 2016 alone. The American Cancer Society estimates that some 252,700 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, and more than 40,000 women will die from it.

Triple-negative breast cancer accounts for 10 to 20 percent of those deaths. This type of breast cancer has been tested negative against the three receptors associated with cancer growth: estrogen, progesterone, and HER-2. Simply put, the cancer cells in a triple-negative breast cancer do not have estrogen, progesterone, and HER-2 receptors, making the cancer difficult to treat.

Mayo Clinic Study: CDK 4/6 Inhibitors Could Prevent Metastasis

Cancer metastasis is cancer that has spread to nearby tissues and, for lead researcher Dr. Zhenkun Lou, it is "a hallmark of cancer and a leading cause of cancer death. Despite great progress in cancer therapy, the prevention of cancer metastasis is still an unfulfilled challenge."

While Dr. Lou and colleague Dr. Matthew Goetz, who coauthored the study, have confirmed previous research that CDK 4/6 inhibitors won't be able to reduce the growth of cancer cells, they said that this class of drugs can prevent metastasis.

The Mayo Clinic researchers tested the CDK 4/6 inhibitors in "patient-derived xenografts," which are specialized mice with suppressed immune systems and implanted with human tumor tissue. The researchers found that, while the CDK 4/6 inhibitors did not stop the growth of cancer cells, they did reduce the spread of the cancer to other organs by targeting SNAIL, a cancer metastasis protein.

Word Of Caution: Additional Research Needed

Dr. Lou said to exercise caution since additional research on the subject is necessary. But if the findings of his group are corroborated, CDK 4/6 inhibitors could also be used in treating other types of cancer, which have shown to have a high level of SNAIL protein.

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