Breast cancer drug promising

Feb. 27, 2013 at 1:54 AM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- An anti-copper drug compound that disables bone marrow cells from receiving migrating cancer tumor cells may curb the spread of cancer, U.S researchers say.

Dr. Linda Vahdat, director of the Breast Cancer Research Program, chief of the Solid Tumor Service and professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, said the anti-copper drug has shown surprising benefit in one of the most difficult-to-treat forms of cancer -- high-risk triple-negative breast cancer.

The median survival for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer patients is historically nine months. However, results of a new phase II clinical trial conducted by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College and reported in the Annals of Oncology showed if patients at high-risk of relapse with no current visible breast cancer are copper depleted, it results in a prolonged period of time with no cancer recurrence.

In fact, only 2-of-11 study participants with a history of advanced triple-negative breast cancer relapsed within 10 months after using the anti-copper drug, tetrathiomolybdate.

"These study findings are very promising and potentially a very exciting advance in our efforts to help women who are at the highest risk of recurrence," Vahdat said in a statement.

Vahdat said four of the study participants with a history of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer remained disease free for up to 5 1/2 years.

"The anti-copper compound appears to be keeping tumors that want to spread in a dormant state," Vahdat, who is also medical oncologist at the Iris Cantor Women's Health Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said. "We believe one of the important ways it works is by affecting the tumor microenvironment, specifically the bone marrow-derived cells that are critical for metastasis progression."

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