September 6, 2008

Researchers Hope to Reduce Cancer Drug Resistance

Many breast cancers are made worse by the hormone oestrogen and women take drugs known as aromatase inhibitors to reduce the oestrogen in their body and restrict the cancer's progress. But eventually the tumour becomes resistant to this treatment and starts to grow.Now American researchers said a drug called sorafenib may be able to reverse this process."At first, the tumour's growth is halted because the aromatase inhibitor is depriving the cancer of the oestrogen it needs to grow," says Claudine Isaacs, clinical director of breast cancer programme at Georgetown University Medical Centre's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Centre. "Eventually, though, the cancer will figure out another way to thrive in the absence of the oestrogen."She and her colleagues are conducting a clinical trial to see if the new approach can destroy the machinery the tumour creates in order to grow without the oestrogen.They presented results to a breast cancer symposium in the US today which showed that of 27 patients studied, 26 per cent benefited from taking both sorafenib and the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole.Kath McLachlano of UK charity Breast Cancer Care, warned that the research was still in very early stage trials, and it remained to be seen how effective the treatment could be."Only a quarter of the 27 patients in the trial gained any clinical benefit from the regime, and so further robust clinical trials will be needed to determine the full effectiveness of this approach before it can be commonly used."Dr Sarah Cant, policy manager at breast cancer charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, also cautioned that it was a very small trial.

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