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Investigational Drug Reduces Breast Cancer Tumor Resistance to Anti-Estrogen Therapy

Posted Jan 08 2010 12:00am
Hormone dependent breast cancer patients are typically treated with an anti-estrogen therapy such as tamoxifen.  However, many of these breast cancers become resistant to this treatment, which can result in the return of breast cancer.  This is one reason why these anti-estrogen breast cancer therapies are generally only prescribed for a limited number of years.  New breast cancer research demonstrates that a new drug might overcome this resistance developed by breast cancer cells.

In this new study, breast cancer researchers treated three different breast cancer cell types with a new drug (called YC137) that broadly inhibits the BCL2 family of cell proteins.  These proteins are involved with keeping cells alive and over production of these proteins has been suggested to be involved with breast cancer cell resistance to therapy.  Treatment of these breast cancer cells with YC137 inhibited at least two members of this family of proteins, which resulted in the re-sensitization of the breast cancer cells to anti-estrogen therapy and increased death of breast cancer cells.  The researchers indicated that previous work targeting specific members of this family of proteins had not been as successful as hoped, but that using a broad spectrum drug like YC137, which targets multiple members of this protein family, might provide a more effective approach.

The ability of breast cancer cells to develop resistance to anti-estrogen therapy has been a challenge to physicians and researchers for years.  This resistance appears to be due to a number of factors such as the overexpression of cell proteins and the presence of breast cancer stem cells.  This new research opens new avenues of potential breast cancer treatment.  If this new drug continues to prove effective and can be shown to be used safely in patients, this research might lead to therapies that prevent breast cancer cells from becoming resistant to anti-estrogen therapy and therefore improve breast cancer outcomes.

Improving breast cancer treatments is a vital part of our fight against breast cancer.  It is also important for each of us to do our own part in the fight against breast cancer.  To find out more about what you can do to reduce your own breast cancer risk, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer (
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