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May 15, 2007

Scientists Find Potential Target For Treating Up To 40% Of Breast Cancers.

Topics: Medicine

Nature Genetics via BBC News reports a team from Canada's McGill University has been able to block the action of an enzyme which fuels the growth of tumors. The researchers were able to block the enzyme, PTP1B, which appears to "remove the brakes" on cell division, which in turn fuels tumor growth.

They were able to delay cancer in mice with tumours which also respond to the drug Herceptin, but say other breast tumours may respond too.

UK experts said a new drug could boost the benefits of existing treatments.

About 40% of human breast cancers have been shown to have excessively high levels of the enzyme.

The Canadian team studied a strain of mice prone to develop breast tumours because their HER-2 gene is overactive, as is the case for about a quarter of women with the cancer.

These are the women who benefit from the drug Herceptin.

The researchers found that deleting PTP1B in the mice led to a significant delay in the onset of breast tumours, and prevented the secondary development of tumours in the lungs.

Over-expression of PTP1B has already been implicated in the development of diabetes and obesity, where it shuts down insulin receptors, leading a number of drug companies to develop compounds to block its action.

The breast cancer researchers went on to give other mice a PTP1B-blocker developed by the company Merck.

This was also found to delay the development of breast tumours and prevent lung cancer.

... The researchers say that, because the mice studied were HER-2 positive, the study suggests that a combination of Herceptin and a PTP1B-blocker could benefit a significant number of women, although much more research is needed.

Continue reading ...

Cross posted from New Hope Blog

Posted by Richard at May 15, 2007 10:52 PM

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