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by Duplessis Samuel on 06/21/2016 at 05:03 AM

Prevent cancer with bone drug

Prevent cancer with bone drug

A drug already used to tackle bone loss in old age could prevent breast cancer in women who are at very high risk of developing the disease, new research has found. Currently many women with the gene mutation choose surgical removal of their breast tissue and ovaries to reduce their chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Currently many women with the gene mutation choose surgical removal of their breast tissue and ovaries to reduce their chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer. “This is potentially a very important discovery for women who carry a faulty BRCA1 gene, who have few other options,” said one of the researchers Geoff Lindeman.

Expert’s comments

Emma Nolan, a PhD student at the institute, said that “By thoroughly dissecting how normal breast tissue develops, we have been able to pinpoint the precise cells that are the culprits in cancer formation,” she said. “We were excited to discover that these pre-cancerous cells could be identified by a marker protein called RANK,”

If confirmed in clinical studies, this would provide a non-surgical option to prevent breast cancer in women with elevated genetic risk. Lindeman pointed out. “To progress this work, denosumab would need to be formally tested in clinical trials in this setting as it is not approved for breast cancer prevention”

Visvader said. “It is very exciting to think that we may be on the path to the ‘holy grail’ of cancer research, devising a way to prevent this type of breast cancer in women at high genetic risk.

The discovery of RANK as a marker of cancer precursors was an important breakthrough because inhibitors of the RANK signalling pathway were already in clinical use, Lindeman explained. “An inhibitor called denosumab is already used in the clinic to treat osteoporosis and breast cancer that has spread to the bone,” he said.

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