Melbourne scientists claim a new treatment for breast cancer

Melbourne: Melbourne scientists claimed to have discovered a new treatment for treating aggressive forms of breast cancer with a combination of chemotherapy and anti-cancer drug, a report said today.

Experts Geoff Lindeman and his colleagues from Walter and Eliza Hall institute tried the new treatment on mice while observing Basel-like breast cancer tumours, ABC report said.

"Chemotherapy alone was not effective in treating these tumours in mice but when combined with the new anti-BCL-2 treatment a durable response was seen in the mice with shrinkage in the tumours," Lindeman said.

"The BCL-2 proteins can actually protect cells that have been damaged by chemotherapy so that it actually helps prevent the cancer cells from dying from the cancer therapy," he said.

Basel-like breast cancer is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer and accounts for all 20 per cent of breast cancer where the new drug targets BCL-2 proteins which help keep cells alive.

The combination of drugs and chemotherapy made the breast cancer cells much more vulnerable, he added.

The research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal will provide a strong base for future clinical trials, Lindeman said.

"It`s certainly enough pre-clinical evidence, I think, to make a strong case for this to be tested over the next few years in clinical trials," he said.

Expressing hope that the procedure will be able to treat other forms of breast cancer also, he said, "the key target here is BCL-2, and we know that some 70 per cent of breast cancers express BCL-2 or have high levels of this BCL-2 pro-survival protein."

"So, therefore, it`s quite possible that other types of breast cancer could also be amenable to this kind of therapy in combination with chemotherapy."


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