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New Therapies for Preventing and Treating Breast Cancer

New Therapies for Preventing and Treating Breast Cancer
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By    |   Tuesday, 16 January 2018 08:34 AM

Breast cancer is still the No. 2 killer of American women — only lung cancer is deadlier — but the good news is that overall breast cancer deaths are dropping. Between 1989 and 2015, deaths from breast cancer dropped by 39 percent as a result of improvement in treatment and earlier detection through mammograms.

The past few months have brought even more good news for conquering breast cancer, from spotting cancers early, when they are most treatable, to ways of reducing risk such as eating cancer-fighting foods. Promising studies include:

• Drug combo fights triple-negative cancers. Researchers at the University of Michigan combined a new protein inhibitor with a chemotherapy drug to create a powerful combination that killed triple-negative breast cancer cells, a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer that has few effective treatments.

Researchers combined a CDK inhibitor called CYC065, which is used to prevent the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells, with the chemotherapy drug eribulin. The combo created a synergistic effect that was more powerful than either drug alone. In an animal study, the combination caused triple-negative breast cancer cells to become less viable, decreased tumor size, and decreased cell migration.

• MRI technique spots small, aggressive breast cancers. A new contrast agent used in combination with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can pinpoint breast cancers at early stages, say researchers at Case Western Reserve University. The technique can even differentiate between aggressive and slow-growing types.

The contrast agent is based on gadolinium, a form of rare-earth mineral that requires a dose 20 times smaller than traditional iodinated agents. Using a low dosage, it lights up cancer biomarkers during scans much better than traditional MRI contrasting agents, and overcomes the difficulty of MRIs in spotting cancers.

The contrast agent spots the cancer protein EDB-FN, which is associated with tumor invasion, metastasis and drug resistance. In animal tests, MRIs detected breast cancer in all cases, boosting the ability to spot three aggressive triple-negative breast cancers — MDA-MB-231, Hs578T, and BT549.

• Microbiomes prevent cancer. Like the gut, breast tissue has a microbiome, and researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found there are differences in the bacterial composition of the breast tissue of healthy women when compared to those with breast cancer.

Researchers examined the tissues of 78 patients who underwent mastectomy for invasive carcinoma or elective cosmetic breast surgery. In addition, they examined urine and bacteria in the mouth to determine the bacterial composition of these distant sites in the body.

They discovered that healthy breast tissue contains more of the bacterial species Methylobacterium. In addition, the study, which was published online in Oncotarge, discovered that cancer patients' urine samples had increased levels of other bacteria, including Staphylococcus and Actinomyces, although it is unclear if they have a role in breast cancer.

"If we can target specific pro-cancer bacteria, we may be able to make the environment less hospitable to cancer and enhance existing treatments," said co-senior author Dr. Stephen Grobymer.

Researchers hope to eventually use knowledge of microbiomes to prevent cancer with probiotics or antibiotics. 

Other encouraging studies involve common substances that fight cancer:

• Aspirin. A study published in the Journal of Women's Health found that aspirin can slash the risk of breast cancer by almost half in women with Type 2 diabetes. The study of almost 149,000 women found that women who consistently took 75 to 165 milligrams of aspirin daily (a "baby" aspirin is 81 milligrams) reduced their risk by 47 percent compared to those who did not take the pain reliever.

• Red onions. Canadian researchers say that red onions are packed with powerful compounds that fight cancer. Anthocyanins, which are responsible for the onion's dark red hue, slow the spread of the disease while the flavonoid quercetin shrinks tumors. They are most effective at killing colon and breast cancer cells when compared to other types of onions.

"Onions activate pathways that encourage cancer cells to undergo cell death," said researcher Abdulmonem Murayyan. "They promote an unfavorable environment for cancer cells and they disrupt communication between cancer cells, which inhibits growth."

• Strawberries. Strawberry extract can inhibit the spread of breast cancer cells, both in test tubes and in mice, says a study published in Scientific Reports.

The in vitro model (using test tubes) used cells from a highly aggressive, invasive tumor cell line. When cells were treated with the extract, it decreased the cells' ability to survive, blocked them from multiplying, and inhibited their ability to migrate throughout the body.

Strawberry extract also reduced the expression of several genes involved in the processes of metastasis, while at the same time stimulating the expression of a gene thought to suppress metastasis to the lymph nodes of breast cancer patients.

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Breast cancer is still the No. 2 killer of American women - only lung cancer is deadlier - but the good news is that overall breast cancer deaths are dropping. Between 1989 and 2015, deaths from breast cancer dropped by 39 percent as a result of improvement in treatment and...
therapies, prevent, treat, breast, cancer
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 08:34 AM
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