Washington: Scientists have come up with a promising treatment to delay the growth and spread of breast cancer tumors.
According to researchers, the treatment combines two innovative strategies: blocking the enzyme needed to "energize" cancer cells and infusing a potent drug directly into the tumor, with minimum exposure to healthy tissues.
"Once breast cancer metastases have been detected, current treatments (such as surgical resection or tumor removal) may be ineffective. We``ve found a way to keep a breast cancer tumor dormant—thus potentially increasing the likelihood that a tumor can be treated successfully," noted Jeff H. Geschwind, professor of radiology, surgery and oncology and director of vascular and interventional radiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md.
"Our study shows that an ultrasound-guided intra-tumoral treatment with a drug called 3-bromopyruvate (3-BrPA) may be a very promising new therapy for patients with breast cancer that delays tumor growth and spread," added Geschwind, who is also the director of the Interventional Radiology Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
In animal studies, the research team has shown how interventional radiologists are uniquely positioned to combine their basic science knowledge—in this case resulting in the exploitation of tumor metabolism as a target for breast cancer therapy—with their vast experience in minimally invasive treatment strategies.
"Breast tumor cells depend on a metabolic pathway called glycolysis to generate the energy required for their malignant growth. By inhibiting a specific enzyme with the anti-glycolytic agent 3-BrPA, the energy production required for tumor cell growth and spread is blocked," said Geschwind.
"Disrupt glycolysis and cancer cells are unable to produce enough energy to survive," he said.
The researchers were then able to maximize the amount of drug delivered to a tumor by infusing the potent drug directly into the tumor—using imaging to guide them—and minimizing exposure of healthy tissue to the therapy, explained Geschwind.
"The biological targeting abilities of anti-glycolytic treatment combined with an image-guided minimally invasive delivery strategy is a promising approach to reducing the growth and spread of breast cancer in patients," he emphasized.
"In our study, a statistically significant difference in tumor volume was observed. Our results support the continuing development of this highly innovative interventional radiology approach for the safe and effective treatment of breast cancer," he added.
"Before we can test our novel treatment strategy in individuals with breast cancer, it is important to perform additional animal studies of a larger size to confirm the efficacy of the treatment and to verify that there are no toxic effects on the normal tissues," added Geschwind.
The report was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology``s 36th Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago, Ill.