Putting up walls in a relationship is often detrimental, unless that relationship is between cancer and the human body.
The human body has natural walls—physical and biochemical barriers to help keep cells from wandering. When breast cancer metastasizes, that is, begins to spread through the body, the cancer cells have bypassed these safety walls within the mammary ducts and begin to invade the bloodstream, bones, liver or brain. This is the scenario where breast cancer becomes deadly.
Currently, drugs available to breast cancer patients try to stem the uncontrolled division of cancer cells within the mammary ducts. Until now, no drugs specifically targeted the “invader cells” spreading the cancer to other organs.
Dr. Seth Corey, M.D., a Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researcher has found a way to fortify the “wall” within the mammary gland to prevent breast cancer from metastasizing. Dr. Corey, lead researcher in a recently peer-reviewed study and the Sharon Murphy- Steven Rosen Professor of Cancer Biology and Chemotherapy Director, Oncology Research has discovered an entirely new way of targeting a cancer cell.
When a drug normally used to treat leukemia, called dasatinib, is added to a commonly used breast cancer drug, doxorubicin, it creates a potent new chemotherapy cocktail that helps keep breast cancer cells from invading other areas of the body. The results, recently reported in the British Journal of Cancer, show breast cancer cell invasion reduced by half.
According to the research, Dasatinib targets an enzyme, called the Src kinase, which is believed to play a key role in breast cancer invasion and metastases.
The early phase investigational study shows real promise for a breakthrough in breast cancer research.
"Perhaps this drug could be given to prevent invasion from happening in the first place," said Dr. Corey, who is also a pediatric oncologist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "This might keep the disease in check and prevent it from progressing."
Initially, Dr. Corey and his team looked at three to five breast cancer cell lines with various biological features.