New Use in the Treatment of Breast Cancer for Leukemia Drug



One of the most important areas of research in pharmaceuticals is finding new uses for existing drugs. The latest candidate for such treatment is decitabine, a drug currently used in the treatment of myeloidysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that has found to very beneficial in the treatment of breast cancer.

The research, undertaken by Breast Cancer Research, focused on mice that had a primary aggressive breast cancer. The team, headed by Peter Storz, discovered that the decitabine helped shrink the breast tumour and also minimized the metastasis of the cancer (the spread of the cancer to a neighboring organ or area of the body) to the lungs. In fact, most mice had no metastases at all and the ones that did had growths that were 40 times smaller than in the untreated control group.

The drug works by targeting the gene PRKD1. This gene is usually switched on in healthy individuals but in those suffering from aggressive breast cancer it has been switched off by methyl groups that have bound to the DNA present within the gene. Decitabine prevents this binding action, allowing the PRKD1 to continue with normal function, which is the production of proteins that control cancer.

Human studies are required but the results are certainly positive. As the drug is currently licensed for use it certainly makes things easier with regards to trialing its effectiveness as we already know so much data about it; this is what makes further uses for existing medications so attractive. This is the latest in a series of research into promising cancer medications that have stemmed from the studies into epigenetics. Epigenetic research focuses on the creation of drugs that influence the structure and form of the DNA within the genes but do not actually alter the DNA itself.

To find out more about this exciting discovery, please click here:

Image provided courtesy of Corbis Images


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