Improving Breast Cancer Treatment At Cardiff

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Cardiff University research could improve breast cancer treatment for women who become resistant to drugs such as tamoxifen.

While drugs such as tamoxifen have been successful in treating breast cancer, for a significant proportion of sufferers the drugs either fail to work, or after an initial successful response, the patient relapses as the cancer acquires or possesses resistance to the drug.

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However researchers from the Welsh School of Pharmacy's Tenovus Centre for Cancer Research have discovered that inhibiting the activity of a certain protein in the cancer could prevent or even reverse the resistance to tamoxifen. The researchers noticed that when breast cancer cells grown in the laboratory develop resistance to tamoxifen, they show a large increase in the activity of a protein known as Src - and by stopping this activity resistance to tamoxifen can be prevented and even reversed.

Dr Stephen Hiscox of the Welsh School of Pharmacy, who led the research team and has just been appointed as one of the Cancer Research UK Cardiff University Research Fellows, explained: "We have previously shown that when breast cancer cells become resistant to medicines such as tamoxifen in the laboratory, they become more aggressive with an invasive behaviour. These are characteristics that can be promoted by Src, a protein which we have recently shown to be more active in tamoxifen-resistant than tamoxifen-sensitive breast cancer cells."

The collaborative research between Tenovus and AstraZeneca also found that the aggressive, invasive behaviour in the cells could be reduced by treating them with a specific inhibitor of Src activity, AZD0530, which also made the tamoxifen-resistant cells sensitive to tamoxifen again.

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