A new cancer therapy could be a major breakthrough in the fight against breast cancer, after it was proved to be particularly effective in treating nice.
The research in question has raised hopes that it will be possible to deliver drugs to vital organs by utilising the technique that bypasses cell defences that are currently resistant to treatment by conventional methods.
In tests on mice with incurable breast cancer that had spread to the lungs, half were free of the disease for at least eight months – the equivalent of 24 years in humans.
Researchers conducting the study believe that if the effect can be transferred to humans that it would have a particularly positive influence on metastatic cancers.
“We are talking about changing the landscape of metastatic disease, so it’s no longer a death sentence,” Dr Mauro Ferrari, president of the Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas and lead in the study, commented.
The research comes just days after another “staggering” new breast cancer therapy was found to have destroyed deadly tumours in just 11 days.
Ferrari urged caution on the subject, but also indicated his belief that the research has massive potential in treating breast cancer in the future.
“I would never want to over-promise to the thousands of patients looking for a cure but the data is astounding. If this research bears out in humans and we see even a fraction of the survival time, we are still talking about dramatically extending life for many years. That’s essentially a providing a cure in a patient population that is now being told there is none.”
However, despite the undoubtedly positive developments, British cancer experts have been more lukewarm about the research.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, of Breast Cancer Now, emphasised that implementing the technology among human beings will be extremely difficult and challenging.
“While the results look promising in mice, there is still a long way to go before we will know if this technique could be an effective treatment for women.”
Dr Ferrari and his team used a standard chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin, but absorbed it into microscopic discs made of silicon, which disguise the drug from the cancer.
Once inside the tumour cells, the discs break down and release the drug
Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, Ferrari explained why the research has been particularly effective.
“Lung and liver metastases are the two main reasons why we lose cancer patients. The results we have proven with this paper is that we can provide a functional cure; we can essentially cure long-term, [giving] disease-free survival for about 50 per cent of the animals that we provided this therapy to.”