Drug For Osteoporosis Could Prevent Breast Cancer In Women By Targeting Faulty Gene

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald June 21, 04:20 am
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A drug used to treat osteoporosis could help doctors prevent breast cancer in women. The drug Denosumab, which was approved by Medsafe, will do this by targeting dangerous and faulty genes that carry cancer.

New Zealand PhD researcher Emma Nolan and her colleagues in Australia conducted the recent study, NZ Herald reported. The drug could be used as an alternative to the surgery that women who carry faulty BRCA genes undertake.

Women's lifetime risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer is increased if she carries harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2, which can be inherited, according to the National Cancer Institute. Women who have these BRCA1 gene mutations have a 55 to 65 percent risk of developing breast cancer, while those with faulty BRCA2 genes are 45 percent more likely to have breast cancer.

The BRCA1 gene's main purpose is to help repair damaged DNA. But the genes can be dangerous to a person if it mutates, increasing cancer risk.

Cancer 'Precursor' Cells

By using breast tissue samples from women with faulty BRCA1 genes, Nolan and her colleagues found cancer "precursor" cells that carry a marker protein called Rank, which is targeted by the Denosumab drug. These precursor cells are vulnerable from cancer.

Through laboratory trials, the researchers found that Denosumab can effectively prevent cancer cell growth in the breast tissue delaying the development of cancerous tumors. Doctors are hopeful that they are on the gateway towards the "holy grail" of cancer treatment. Denosumab is currently being marketed as Prolia and Xgeva and is also used to treat breast cancer that has spread to the bone.

Spotting Early Signs Of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common illness among women, according to the World Health Organization. More than 508,000 females died from breast cancer around the globe in 2011, but genetic mutations only account for a small percentage of cases. Early detection is the most important factor in treating the disease.

Some of the early symptoms of breast cancer are changes in the nipple's shape, intermittent breast pain and nipple discharge that is either clear, red, yellow or brown, Healthline listed. There are also unexplained redness, swelling, rashes, skin irritation on the breast, as well as a swelling or lump around the collarbone or under the arm.

It's not surprising by now that smoking can exacerbate several cancer types including breast cancer. Moreover, patients who are undergoing a specific drug treatment for breast cancer are in danger of the disease's recurrence if they smoke cigarettes often. A drug treatment that contains aromatase inhibitors doesn't have successful results in curing breast cancer if a woman smokes habitually, Irish Health reported.

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