New York: There may soon be a drug that could lower your cholesterol levels and also treat breast cancer. Researchers have shown that a compound initially developed as a cholesterol-fighting molecule can also kill cancerous cells.
"The compound exhibited anti-tumour properties in both human samples, which were outside the body, and in samples that were administered by injection into the mice," explained Salman Hyder, professor of biomedical sciences at University of Missouri in the US.
"In both cases, proteins that cause tumours to grow were eliminated, leading to more aggressive cell death," Hyder added.
When administered to human breast cancer cells, the compound was effective in reducing breast cancer cell growth and often caused cancer cell death, the findings showed.
The cholesterol-lowering drug the researchers tested destroyed an estrogen receptor - a protein which encourages the tumour cells to grow.
Following injection of the compound in mice with breast cancer, the molecule was found to be effective at killing breast cancer cells by reducing the presence of estrogen receptors in tumour cells.
Although tumour cells may initially respond to therapies, most eventually develop resistance which causes breast cancer cells to grow and spread.
Cholesterol also can contribute to the development of anti-hormone resistance because it is converted into hormones in tumour cells.
Therefore, these cholesterol-forming pathways are attractive therapeutic targets for the treatment of breast cancer.
"Further clinical testing can lead to a drug that has the dual purpose of fighting high cholesterol and cancer," Hyder noted.
The study appeared in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.