Australian researchers have shown why calcium-binding drugs commonly used to treat people with osteoporosis, or with late-stage cancers that have spread to bone, may also benefit patients with tumours outside the skeleton, including breast cancer.
Several clinical trials – where women with breast cancer were given these drugs (bisphosphonates) alongside normal treatment for early-stage disease – showed that they can confer a ‘survival advantage’ and inhibit cancer spread in some women, although until now no-one has understood why.
A new study by Professor Mike Rogers, Dr Tri Phan and Dr Simon Junankar from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research has used sophisticated imaging technologies to reveal that bisphosphonates attach to tiny calcifications in tumours in mice.
These calcium-drug complexes are then devoured by ‘macrophages’, immune cells that the cancer hijacks early in its development to conceal its existence.
“We already know this drug is well-tolerated in people and provides a survival advantage for some patients with certain cancers when taken early in disease development. This now provides a rationale for using these drugs in a different, and potentially more effective, way in the clinic.”
Source by : Science Daily News