Wednesday January 22, 2020

Breast Cancer Drugs may Force Some Cancer Cells into ‘Sleeper Mode’

The team studied human breast cancer cells in the laboratory and examined the effects of a group of breast cancer drugs called hormone treatments

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Breast Cancer, Drugs, Cells
The research could open avenues for finding ways of keeping the cancer cells dormant for longer, or even potentially finding a way of awakening the cells so they can then be killed by the treatment. Pixabay

Breast cancer drugs may force some cancer cells into ‘sleeper mode’, allowing them to potentially come back to life years after initial treatment.

The research could open avenues for finding ways of keeping the cancer cells dormant for longer, or even potentially finding a way of awakening the cells so they can then be killed by the treatment.

The team studied human breast cancer cells in the laboratory and examined the effects of a group of breast cancer drugs called hormone treatments.

“For a long time scientists have debated whether hormone therapies – which are a very effective treatment and save millions of lives – work by killing breast cancer cells or whether the drugs flip them into a dormant ‘sleeper’ state,” said Luca Magnani, lead author of the study from Imperial College London.

Breast Cancer, Drugs, Cells
Breast cancer drugs may force some cancer cells into ‘sleeper mode’, allowing them to potentially come back to life years after initial treatment. Pixabay

“This is an important question as hormone treatments are used on the majority of breast cancers. Our findings suggest the drugs may actually kill some cells and switch others into this sleeper state,” Magnani added.

“If we can unlock the secrets of these dormant cells, we may be able to find a way of preventing cancer coming back, either by holding the cells in permanent sleep mode, or be waking them up and killing them,” Magnani said.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the team studied around 50,000 human breast cancer single cells in the lab, and found that treating them with hormone treatment exposed a small proportion of them as being in a dormant state.

The ‘sleeper cells’ may also provide clues as to why some breast cancer cells become resistant to treatment, causing a patient’s drugs to stop working, and their cancer to return, the researchers said.

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Hormone therapies are used to treat a type of breast cancer called oestrogen-receptor positive. These make up over 70 per cent of all breast cancers, and are fuelled by the hormone oestrogen.

These cancers are usually treated with surgery to remove the tumour, followed by a course of targeted hormone therapy – usually either aromatase inhibitors or tamoxifen, which target oestrogen receptors.

However, around 30 per cent of breast cancer patients taking hormone therapies see their cancer eventually return – sometimes as long as 20 years after treatment.

This returning cancer is usually metastatic, meaning it has spread around the body, and the tumours are often now resistant to medication. (IANS)

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70 Lakh Women Screened for Breast Cancer Under Ayushman Bharat: Smriti Irani

Irani also said that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Democratic Alliance-government was the first in the country, which not only set targets but also achieve it before the deadline

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Smriti Irani
Smriti Irani. Facebook

Under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, more than 70 lakh women have undergone screening for breast cancer, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani said on Saturday.

Irani was in Goa to launch a new health kit, launched by the Goa government’s Women and Child Ministry, which will help diagnose breast cancer and other medical ailments in association with Anganwadi workers.

“70 lakh women have screened for breast cancer through Ayushman Bharat scheme,” Irani said, adding that 30 lakh women across India have been screened for cervical cancer under the national universal health care scheme.

Breast cancer pink ribbon
Breast cancer survival rates are rising as screening and treatment improve. Pixabay

Irani also said that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Democratic Alliance-government was the first in the country, which not only set targets but also achieve it before the deadline.

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“No one had thought that there would be a government at the Centre which will not just announce schemes, but will also achieve targets ahead of the deadline of 2020. Take the Ujjwala Yojana for example for which the target was providing free gas cylinders for five crore women. I am happy that today when we see Ujwala Yojana numbers, in just three years eight crore poor women have got clean fuel,” Irani also said. (IANS)