Scientists Close In On ‘Holy Grail’ Of Breast Cancer Treatment

There are millions of women around the world who are susceptible to breast cancer. In 2011 alone, more than 508,000 women died from breast cancer worldwide. But there is good news from Australia, where a medical research team has found that women who stand a high risk of getting breast cancer can benefit from a drug that is usually prescribed to treat osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become fragile as a result of tissue loss.

In a latest discovery, Scientists in Australia have found that the drug prescribed for osteoporosis can delay or better still, prevent altogether, the formation of tumor in women susceptible to breast cancer. Although the prospect of this research sounds promising, it is still in its early stage and scientists are yet to test the research on a live human subject. As of now, they have experimented on lab mice and sample breast tissues from women with the mutated BRCA1 genes, and in both cases the results have been promising.

In their experiments, Scientists were able to isolate a defined group of cells from the sample that were growing rapidly and appeared to be the precursors to breast tumors. Under further examination of the cells, they were found to carry a protein marker called RANK1. And apparently Denosumab, a drug used to treat osteoporosis, will attack any cell carrying this particular protein marker.

Denosumab, which has been used to treat bone cancer and osteoporosis in the past, was found to successfully treat mice with breast cancer, by stopping the growth of the cancer precursor cells and by slowing down the growth of the tumor altogether.

Professor Jame Visvader of Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research says that this research and discovery is built on almost a decade of research on stem cells in the breast. She further elaborated on the research, at one point even calling it the path to the “holy grail” of breast cancer treatment.

“By thoroughly dissecting how normal breast tissue develops, we have been able to pinpoint the precise cells that are the culprits in cancer formation.

“It is very exciting to think that we may be on the path to the ‘holy grail’ of cancer research, devising a way to prevent this type of breast cancer in women at high genetic risk.”

Breast Cancer Angelina Jolie had to undergo mastectomy to prevent Breast Cancer. [Image via Shutterstock]

Women who have a mutation called BRCA1 in there genes are known to carry a higher risk of getting breast cancer. Sadly, there are millions of women around the world who carry this mutation. This has led many women with the BRCA1 genetic mutation to perform Mastectomy, i.e to have their breasts surgically removed in order to avoid contracting breast cancer. Angelina Jolie had to go through the traumatic experience of mastectomy for the same reason in 2013. Jolie, whose mother had died of breast cancer, had penned an emotional letter to the New York Times explaining her decision to go through double mastectomy after doctors said that was an 87 percent chance that she would get the cancer, too.

[Image via Shutterstock]