New drug may prove key to overcoming aggressive breast cancer

It works by forcing cancer cells to divide prematurely

Moya Lothian-McLean
Saturday 05 October 2019 11:07
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How to check for breast cancer

A drug that boosts chemotherapy success could be used to treat aggressive breast cancers, a study has found.

Scientists at the London-based Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) have discovered the drug forces cancer cells to divide quickly, making even chemo-resistant cancers susceptible to treatment.

Multiplying faster than normal produces errors within the cancer cells and means chemotherapy is more likely to kill them.

The drug - known as BOS172722 - works by blocking a molecule called MPS1 which ensures cells have the correct number of chromosomes before they divide.

Chromosomes must be spread equally between cells before they multiply or they die.

BOS172722 causes cell division to race ahead without this process, causing cells to replicate with the wrong number of chromosomes and consequently fail.

Initial tests on lab-grown cells and mice showed the drug worked particularly well alongside chemotherapy in treating triple negative breast cancer cells.

Triple negative breast cancer strains are considered the among the deadliest of all breast cancer cells and make up between 10 to 20 per cent of all breast cancer diagnoses.

Spiros Linardopoulos, professor of cancer biology and therapeutics at the ICR said: "Crucially, the combination is anticipated to be effective in cancer patients that have already become resistant to chemotherapy alone and has the potential to become a much-needed extra treatment option that could extend lives".

The drug is now midway through a phase one clinical trial, where it is being tested on a small group of patients and solid tumour cancers.

Professor Linardopoulos said he was “looking forward to the results".

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