Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research have run early studies of a new combination of treatments for breast cancer, with 100% success rate.
The treatment targets late-stage triple negative breast cancers, for which the average survival rate is only 12 months. This type of cancer is most common in young women and accounts for approximately 20% of breast cancer cases in Australia.
Unlike other cancer cells, triple negative breast cancers don’t have any of the three usual surface receptors, which would normally be the target of treatment.
But this latest treatment trial shows that targeting radiation specifically to an overload of proteins (known as EGFR) together with a dramatically reduced dose of chemotherapy is effective in stopping both the cancer growth, and its recurrence.
The initial trials have been conducted in mice, but Dr Fares Al-Ejeh, Senior Research Scientist at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and lead author of the study has said:
“The response is very very promising. It’s the equivalent of providing a complete cure for more than ten years.
“Every researcher working on breast cancer is seeking a way to stop breast cancer recurrence and spread. It would be immense if we could show this combination therapy also works in people. But first we must do many more tests to make sure there’s no real toxicity.
“Then it will be a phase one clinical trial, which is mainly looking at safety but also hoping to see efficacy and anti-cancer effects,” he said.
“And from then onwards it will be clinical development towards making this a practice for treating patients affected with this disease.
The research team hopes that within ten years, an effective therapy for this aggressive cancer will be available to women in Australia.
The ACRF is proud to be associated with such a world-class cancer research centre, having provided more than $4 million in funding to QIMR in recent years.
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The study has been published in the online issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.