Washington DC: In a new study, scientists have shown that adding a cheap and widely-available female hormone progesterone to the treatment of some breast cancer patients could help beat the disease.
Scientists at Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Research Institute and the University of Adelaide revealed how the progesterone receptor "talks to" the oestrogen receptor in breast cancer cells to change their behaviour, ultimately slowing down tumour growth.
Dr Jason Carroll, who led the study with Professor Wayne Tilley at the University of Adelaide in Australia, said the important laboratory research helps explain why some breast cancer patients have a better outlook. Crucially, it provided a strong case for a clinical trial to investigate the potential benefit of adding progesterone to drugs that target the oestrogen receptor, which could improve treatment for the majority of hormone-driven breast cancers.
Dr Emma Smith, senior science communication officer at Cancer Research UK, added that the exciting study in cells shows how a cheap, safe, and widely available drug could potentially improve treatment for around half of all breast cancer patients.
The study is published in Nature.