Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Breast Cancer News Update: June 2

Today in breast cancer news, there is advice relating to hormone replacement therapy after ovary removal, progress for two treatments for advanced disease and two lab discoveries which may lead to new treatments for triple-negative breast cancer.

Hormone replacement therapy is safe for BRCA mutation carriers after ovary removal

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recommend that women with BRCA1/2 gene mutations have prophylactic oophorectomies (surgical ovary removal) after childbearing to decrease cancer risk. Some women resist this option due to concerns about menopausal symptoms after surgery. According to a recent study, short-term hormone replacement therapy after oophorectomy for menopausal symptom relief does not increase breast cancer risk for young patients.

Progress in the development of tesetaxel and etinostat for advanced breast cancer

Early results of a study of tesataxel as first-line therapy for recurrent or metastatic breast cancer are promising. To date, 60 percent of the patients in the study have attained an average 55% reduction in tumor size. Tesetaxel, an oral taxane, "has been generally well tolerated," with "no substantial neuropathy or alopecia (hair loss)." Tesetaxel has been previously studied as second-line therapy with a 38% response rate. An expert panel will be convened to explore registration strategies for the drug.

A US patent has been issued for etinostat in combination with aromatase inhibitors for metastatic breast cancer. According to a statement from the company, entinostat is expected to extend the benefit of hormone therapy and delay the start of chemotherapy. Phase III studies are planned.

Lab discoveries may lead to new treatments for triple-negative or basal breast cancer

Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified a network of growth-spurring genes called the Jak2/Stat3 pathway, which drives triple-negative breast tumors. In animal studies, drugs to block the pathway halted tumor growth. Jak2/Stat3 inhibitor drugs are already in advanced clinical trials for other cancers. It "should be possible to begin testing them in breast cancer patients soon."

Australian researchers have discovered a "hedgehog" molecule, with a "spiky structure" responsible for the spread of basal breast cancer. In animal studies, blocking the molecule results in smaller tumors which don't spread as far. Readily available "hedgehog" blocking drugs have been studied in other cancers. Researchers are hopeful that they will be effective in tests on breast cancer patients.

Please check back tomorrow as we highlight the research abstracts added to the database this week.

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