Thursday June 27, 2019

New Smart Drug Shows Promise for Metastatic Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

The addition of cell-cycle inhibitor ribociclib increased survival rates to 70 percent after 3½ years

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Drug, Metasatic, Triple-Negative
FILE - A radiologist uses a magnifying glass to check mammograms for breast cancer in Los Angeles, California, May 6, 2010.. VOA

A new form of drug drastically improves survival rates of pre-menopausal women with the most common type of breast cancer, researchers said on Saturday, citing the results of an international clinical trial.

The findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, showed that the addition of cell-cycle inhibitor ribociclib increased survival rates to 70 percent after 3½ years.

The mortality rate was 29 percent less than when patients were randomly assigned a placebo.

Lead author Sara Hurvitz told AFP the study focused on hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, which accounts for two-thirds of all breast cancer cases among younger women and is generally treated by therapies that block estrogen production.

Drug, Metasatic, Triple-Negative
FILE – Slides are prepared during a breast and cervical cancer screening program at the NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center in Minneapolis, Minn. VOA

“You actually can get synergy, or a better response, better cancer kill, by adding one of these cell-cycle inhibitors” on top of the hormone suppression, Hurvitz said.

The drug works by inhibiting the activity of cancer-cell promoting enzymes known as cyclin-dependent 4/6 kinases.

The treatment is less toxic than traditional chemotherapy because it more selectively targets cancerous cells, blocking their ability to multiply.

An estimated 268,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. in 2019, while the advanced form of the disease is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women aged 20 to 59.

Growing menace

Though advanced breast cancer is less common among younger women, its incidence grew 2 percent per year between 1978 and 2008 for women aged 20 to 39, according to a previous study.

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The new trial, which looked at more than 670 cases, included only women under the age of 59 who had advanced cancer — stage four — for which they had not received prior hormone-blocking therapy.

“These are patients who tend to be diagnosed later, at a later stage in their disease, because we don’t have great screening modalities for young women,” said Hurvitz.

In addition, patients who develop breast cancer early tend to have more complex cases.

“That’s what makes us so excited, because it’s a therapy that’s affecting so many patients with advanced disease,” added Hurvitz.

Drug, Metasatic, Triple-Negative
A new form of drug drastically improves survival rates of pre-menopausal women with the most common type of breast cancer. Pixabay

A pill is administered daily for 21 days, followed by seven days off to allow the body time to recover, since two-thirds of patients have a moderate to severe drop in white cell count.

Jamie Bennett, a spokeswoman for Novartis, which markets the drug under the brand name Kisqali and funded the research, said it cost $12,553 for a 28-day dose.

But, she added, “the majority of patients in the U.S. with commercial insurance will pay $0 per month for their Kisqali prescription.”

There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, and the majority of the women on the drug will require some form of therapy for the rest of their lives.

‘Significant survival benefit’

Oncologist Harold Burstein, who was not involved in the research, said it was “an important study,” having established that the use of cyclin inhibitors “translates into a significant survival benefit for women.”

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Burstein, who is with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said, “Hopefully, these data will enable access for this product for more women around the world, particularly in health care systems which assess value rigorously as part of their decisions for national access to drugs.”

Moving forward, Hurvitz said she was interested in investigating whether ribociclib could help nip cancer in the bud at an earlier stage.

“We want to go and look at those women diagnosed with early stage disease, small tumors, tumors that haven’t gone to the lymph nodes or haven’t gone to other parts of the body, and see if we can stop it from returning later,” she said.

A new global clinical trial is now underway. (VOA)

Next Story

UN Report: 30% Increase in Drug Usage, 35 Million Suffering from Disorders

The death toll also increased, with 5,85,000 people dying in 2017 from drug use

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Opioids are the drugs that present the largest cause for concern due to the severe impact on the health of users. Pixabay

The United Nation’s latest report on drug use revealed a 30 per cent increase on 2009 with regards to the consumption of narcotics with some 35 million people worldwide suffering from drug disorders, thanks to in-depth surveys conducted in India and Nigeria.

The UN has raised the alarm on the need for further international cooperation to deal with the health and criminal impact of substance misuse, the Efe news reported.”

“The findings of this’year’s World Drug Report fill in and further complicate the global picture of drug challenges, underscoring the need for broader international cooperation to advance balanced and integrated health and criminal justice responses to supply and de”and,” Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said.

“With improved research and more precise data from India and Nigeria, both amongst the 10 most populous countries in the world – we see that there are any more opioid users and people with use disorders than previously estimated,” Fedotov added.

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The studies have contributed to more accurate figures of drug use globally. Pixabay

The surveys in India in 2018 and Nigeria in 2017 have offered great insights into drug consumption due to being such vast demographics for their region. India accounts for 30 per cent of the population in Asia alone.

The Indian survey was based on interviews with 5,00,000 people across the nation. The studies have contributed to more accurate figures of drug use globally. The report estimated that of the 271 million people that used any drug, 35 million (nearly 13 per cent) suffer from a disorder.

Previous records fell 4.5 million people short in their estimates and it was the surveys conducted in both India and Nigeria that triggered the adjustment. The death toll also increased, with 5,85,000 people dying in 2017 from drug use.

Cannabis consumption, the most widely used drug globally with approximately 188 million users in 2016, has increased in Asia and North and South America, whilst a spike in use of opioids was registered.

Opioids are the drugs that present the largest cause for concern due to the severe impact on the health of users. Also of concern is the non-medical use of painkiller Tramadol produced in South Asia and trafficked primarily to Africa and the Middle East.

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The report estimated that of the 271 million people that used any drug, 35 million (nearly 13 per cent) suffer from a drug use disorder. VOA

Amongst the negative consequences of drug use, mental health disorders, HIV infection, hepatitis C and overdose are the main concerns, many of which can lead to premature death.

Injecting drugs, mainly opioids, is deemed the most dangerous way of consuming narcotics due to the proliferation of diseases through the sharing of needles. The rate of 15-64 year olds who inject drugs is four times higher in eastern and southeastern Europe and in central Asia.

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According to the report, 50 per cent of those live with hepatitis C. Mortality rates overwhelmingly affect men who account for 72 per cent of those who die as a result of drug use. Sixty-eight per cent of overdose deaths in 2017 were due to opioids.

Most of the world’s opioids are produced in Afghanistan (263,000 hectares of poppy seed production) with Myanmar (37,300 hectares) coming in as the second largest producer amid a decline in consumption in Asia as the demand for synthetic drugs increased, particularly methamphetamine. (IANS)