New drug 'could target tumour-inducing stem cells'

8 December 2011

An experimental drug has shown promising results in targeting cancer stem cells and has been deemed a "novel approach to treatment research".

Researchers at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago found a therapeutic approach to targeting cancer stem cells worked in clinical trials and that this could help to kill those stem cells that are often resistant to existing methods of treatment.

Known as a 'notch inhibitor', the drug appears to block the process whereby mature cancer stem cells develop into new tumour cells by turning off key genes.

Leader of the study Kathy Albain said: "Our results suggest a potential role that notch inhibitors could play in optimising existing therapies and in overcoming resistance to cancer drugs."

She added that results of the clinical trial showed promising results and will form a foundation for further research and development.

Women with early-stage breast cancer were tested as part of the clinical trial and results showed that the tested drug turned off the key genes that in effect would have kept the tumour stem cells resistant to conventional drugs.

Breast cancer is most commonly treated through chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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