Experimental Drug Kills Breast Cancer Stem Cells In Early Trials

Image via fightpink.orgImage via fightpink.org A new breast cancer drug, developed by Merck & Co, has passed Phase 1 trials with flying colors. The experimental drug, MK-0752, was developed to kill breast cancer stem cells that are resistant to chemotherapy and radiation.

The breast cancer stem cells remain in the breast after traditional therapies have been applied. They are not only responsible for tumor recurrences, but can metastasize to other areas of the body.

In the latest experiment, funded by Merck, but conducted by researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine, researchers injected mice with the breast cancer cells taken from women.  The mice grew cancerous tumors identical to the cancers growing in women.  Then, the mice were treated with a combination of chemotherapy and MK-0752, successfully.  "We were able to "hit" the cancer stem cells," Dr. Jenny Chang, head of the Baylor study, told Reuters.

Researchers also administered the drug to 35 women with advanced breast cancer and found that their breast biopsies, sampled before and after MK-0752 therapy, also showed a reduction in breast cancer stem cells.  The next step, according to Dr. Chang, is to test the combination of MK-0752 and chemotherapy in a large trial of women with advanced stages of breast cancer.

Apparently, unlike chemotherapy, the Merck drug can be safely administered and has few, if any, side effects.



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