Researchers develop new therapies for breast cancer and rare form of ovarian cancer; here’s what you need to know

A combination therapy using two drugs - tubulin inhibitor and bromodomain inhibitor - can not only cross the blood-brain barrier but also target brain metastases, a study found

Myupchar August 27, 2020 21:03:44 IST
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Researchers develop new therapies for breast cancer and rare form of ovarian cancer; here’s what you need to know

It is true that no matter what type of cancer a patient is diagnosed with today, there are more treatment options available than there were even a decade ago. Of course, getting a prognosis and going through different types of therapy has not gotten any easier for patients or their loved ones, but with continued and extensive research about all types of cancer, more actionable information is now within everyone’s reach. Some recently published studies may also contribute to our understanding of innovations in cancer therapies.

Radiation therapy and breast cancer survival 

Many cancers can show up during childhood or adolescence, and radiation therapy is usually incorporated in the treatment protocol in such cases. A new study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention indicates that those women who received radiation therapy to treat any type of primary cancer in their childhood, adolescence or young adult years had a worse significantly low survival rate for breast cancer later in life.

This low survival rate was observed even in premenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer, who usually have a good prognosis. The study indicates that having received radiation therapy early in life worsens the prognosis for even stage one breast cancer, and so specific radiation fields and chemotherapeutic agents used to treat very young patients should be reevaluated.

New therapy for metastasized breast cancer 

Cancer that metastasizes or spreads to other parts of the body can never present a good prognosis for a patient. This is especially true for women with HER2-breast cancer, who run a 55 percent chance of developing brain metastases (cancer which has spread to the brain). In these cases, chemotherapy drugs that target breast cancer cells in the brain aren’t effective because of the blood-brain barrier, leaving these patients at risk of mortality. A new study published in Science Translational Medicine, which was conducted on mice, may present with better treatment options.

The study revealed that combination therapy using two drugs - tubulin inhibitor and bromodomain inhibitor - can not only cross the blood-brain barrier but also target brain metastases and improve survival chances. Both these drugs are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the trials on mice with this combination therapy showed that 75 percent of the mice with brain metastases of breast cancer were cured and cancer-free.

Breast cancer patients with brain metastases are usually excluded from clinical trials because their disease is considered terminal with very low survival rates. This study, which is now set to enter the clinical trial stage, can provide women with a new therapeutic regimen that has shown to be effective in experimental settings.

New treatment possibilities for ovarian cancer

Small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT), a rare type of ovarian cancer, usually diagnosed in women in their 20s, is aggressive and has no effective treatments. A new study in Clinical Cancer Research indicates targeting a particular vulnerability in the SCCOHT cancer cells may help starve them out.

The study found that SCCOHT cancer cells have very low levels of an enzyme that helps produce arginine, an amino acid needed for protein synthesis. The cancer cells, however, absolutely need arginine to thrive and so, they attack surrounding healthy cells to derive it, thereby also spreading the cancer. The researchers have developed a small molecule agent that can eliminate arginine from the areas around the tumour cells, which essentially starves the cancer and helps eliminate it.

Treatment with this molecule agent has now been validated for pre-clinical trials, and the researchers hope to progress to clinical trial stages soon. If their findings are validated, then this therapy will provide hope to the patients of a very rare and aggressive form of cancer.

For more information, read our article on Breast cancer.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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