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Diabetes drug could be used to treat aggressive forms of breast cancer.

M2 PHARMA-March 8, 2017-Diabetes drug could be used to treat aggressive forms of breast cancer


Researchers from the Zhejiang University School of Medicine have come across an unexpected ally in the fight against breast cancer and it comes in the form of a diabetes drug. Pharmafile reported on Wednesday that the function of a metabolic enzyme known as AKR1B1 has a significant impact on the progression of belligerent 'basal-like' breast cancer. As a result, existing diabetes medicines that inhibit it may be useful in combating the disease.

The researchers discovered that AKR1B1 is predominant at higher levels in basal-like and triple-negative breast cancer subtypes. This form of cancer is infamous for its aggression and difficulty to treat, as symptoms often reoccur not long after treatment.

Additionally, the subtypes are known to have shorter survival times and higher metastasis rates. The aggression is triggered by epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process which causes the tumours to develop treatment-resistant properties.

Chenfang Dong, one of the scientists who worked on the research, said: "Our data clearly suggests that AKR1B1 overexpression represents an oncogenic event that is responsible for the aggressive behaviours of basal-like breast cancer cells."

Further research uncovered that AKR1B1 is expressed by a cellular transcription factor called Twist2, a key component of EMT. The enzyme then produces higher levels of Twist2 in what researchers have described as a 'feedback loop'. This theory is now thought to be fundamental to the EMT process in basal-like tumours.

"Since epalrestat is already on the market and has no major adverse side effects, our study provides a proof of principle that it could become a valuable targeted drug for the clinical treatment of basal-like breast cancer," Dong concluded.

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Publication:M2 Pharma
Date:Mar 8, 2017
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