New Progesterone Drug Could Help Slow Growth of Breast Cancer

Scientists from the United Kingdom, in collaboration with their counterparts from Australia, have revealed that they are getting overwhelmingly positive results in their research on a new, safe and cheap drug that could be the answer to prolonging the lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer. They published their findings on the latest edition of the scientific journal, Nature.

Though the study is currently in its early stages, the scientists now believe that further research could see the hormone progesterone being used in a future cancer drug to help slow down the growth of a variety of tumors associated with breast cancer. They say that their findings are "very significant", though they will need to do a myriad of clinical trials to ascertain the viability of such a future cancer drug on the human anatomy.

According to Cancer Research UK, though this drug is not meant to cure cancer, it could help thousands of women in advanced stages of the disease to prolong their lives. In addition, it could also help women in their early stages of cancer to slow down their tumor growth as doctors work to kill the cancerous cells and cure them.

The drug works like this: hormones -- especially progesterone and estrogen -- are a major player when it comes to the development of breast cancer. When they get attached to "hormone receptors" found on the surface of cancerous cells and tumors, they help the cells to divide much faster and spread.

In fact, the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen, which is today one of the most effective and successful on the market, works by bunging up the estrogen receptors on cancerous cells and tumors.

According to the team of researchers from the UK’s University of Cambridge and Australia’s University of Adelaide, cancers associated with progesterone receptors are currently known to be less deadly. In their laboratory test of cancer cells, they used progesterone receptors to reduce the effects of estrogen receptors.

One set of cancer cells grown in the lab were treated with a mixture of progesterone and Tamoxifen, while another set was treated with Tamoxifen alone. It was found that the former set grew to half the size relative to the latter set of cells. This was attributed to the inhibiting effect of hormone progesterone.

Following the promising results, the scientists are now planning a clinical trial and currently are in their first stages of the plan. Further research statistics show that approximately three quarters of breast cancer sufferers have the estrogen receptor while out of those, three quarters also have the progesterone receptor. What this means is that about half of women with breast cancer could be helped by such a future cancer drug.


Img source: Flickr

Adnan Kubi

Adnan Kubi

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