Wednesday March 27, 2019

Common Diabetes Drug May Offer Treatment For Breast Cancer, Says Study

However, neither of the drugs were originally designed to treat cancer

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay
Repurposing a common diabetes drug as well as another used for treating a group of inherited and acquired disorders may also help in the fight against resistant breast cancers that currently have no targeted therapy, finds a study.
The study, led by the University of Chicago, showed that the two existing drugs named metformin and haemin suppress tumour growth in mice, Xinhua reported.
“This is the first joint use of these two drugs. We think we have elucidated a new mechanism, something basic and fundamental, and found ways to use it,” said Marsha Rosner, Professor at the varsity.
The researchers found that the primary anti-cancer target for haemin is a transcription factor known as BACH1 (BTB and CNC homology1). This protein is often highly expressed in triple negative breast cancers and is required for metastasis.
BACH1 targets mitochondrial metabolism and can suppress a key source of cellular energy. When BACH1 is high, this energy source is shut down, the report said.
However, when cancer cells were treated with haemin, BACH1 was reduced, causing BACH1-depleted cancer cells to change metabolic pathways. This caused cancers that are vulnerable to metformin to suppress mitochondrial respiration.
Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay
“We found that this novel combination, haemin plus metformin, can suppress tumour growth, and we validated this in mouse tumour models,” explained Jiyoung Lee from the varsity.
The findings can extend beyond breast cancer.
BACH1 expression is enriched not only in triple negative breast cancers, but is also seen in many other cancers including lung, kidney, uterus, prostate and acute myeloid leukemia, the researchers noted.
However, neither of the drugs were originally designed to treat cancer.
Metformin, discovered in 1922 and used clinically since 1957, was developed to treat Type-2 diabetes. It decreases glucose production by the liver and increases insulin sensitivity.
Haemin, marketed as panhematin, was first crystallised from blood in 1853. It is now used to treat defects of haemin synthesis. These defects can cause porphyrias, a group of inherited and acquired disorders. (IANS)

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Exposure to Dim Light Escalates Breast Cancer’s Spread to Bones

X-ray images showed that mice exposed to a light or dim light cycle had much larger tumours and increased bone damage compared with mice kept in a standard light/dark cycle

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

Exposure to dim light at night may contribute to spreading of breast cancer to bones, researchers have shown in an animal study.

When breast cancer spreads it often affects bones, cause severe pain and make them fragile. “To date no one has reported that exposure to dim light at night induces circadian disruption, which increases spread of bone metastatic breast cancer,” said Muralidharan Anbalagan, Assistant Professor, at Tulane University in New Orleans.

The findings were presented at ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

For the preliminary study, the team created a mouse model of bone metastatic breast cancer. They injected oestrogen receptor-positive human breast cancer cells, which have a low propensity to grow in bones, into the tibia (shinbone) of female mice.

Cancer patient
Cancer patient.

Like humans, mice produced a strong night-time circadian melatonin signal, shown to produce strong anti-cancer actions and for promoting sleep.

While one group of mice was kept in the light for 12 hours each day, the other group of three mice in the dark for 12 hours. Another group spent 12 hours in light, followed by 12 hours in dim light at night.

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X-ray images showed that mice exposed to a light or dim light cycle had much larger tumours and increased bone damage compared with mice kept in a standard light/dark cycle, he noted.

“Our research identified the importance of an intact nocturnal circadian melatonin anti-cancer signal in suppressing bone-metastatic breast tumour growth,” Anbalagan said. (IANS)