A scientist has begun a research project to test whether an existing drug can offer a new treatment to people with incurable breast cancer that has spread to the brain.
Secondary breast cancer, also known as metastatic breast cancer, occurs when the cancer spreads from the breast to other parts of the body, where it is incurable.
The study, funded by the charity Breast Cancer Today, will see researchers assess whether the drug talazoparib, also known as Talzenna, can help to kill cancer cells.
Talazoparib is a drug called a PARP inhibitor that works by preventing the repair of cancer cells, forcing them to die.
Experts from the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Science in Dublin will use tumors and cancer cells provided by patients to see in the lab whether talazoparib is effective in treating secondary breast cancer in the brain.
Further tests will examine the drug in rats and and models that mimic the brain’s protective system.
Professor Leonie Young, one of the co-leads of the research team, said: “Our previous research has shown that, in many cases, secondary breast cancer tumors in the brain have changes in the way they repair their DNA and we believe it could make them vulnerable to PARP inhibitor drugs like talazoparib. “
Dr Simon Vincent, director of research, support and influence at Breast Cancer Now, added: “An estimated 35,000 people in the UK are living with incurable secondary breast cancer, and the fear and uncertainty around when to harm of serious illness their lives.
“We desperately need to discover new ways to cure this incurable disease, including for those with breast cancer that has spread to the brain and has limited treatment options.”
Natalie Woodford, 57, from Surrey, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2017.
“I had primary breast cancer 10 years before my second diagnosis,” she said.
“I am very open about my situation with my wife and our 21-year-old daughter, as well as our family and friends.
“All of them support me in their own way, but know not to bother me and understand my need to deal with things. My husband is touring me now because I’m not allowed to, which allows me to continue. to go to theaters and art exhibits and see my family and friends.
“It’s really encouraging to know about the new breast cancer research that’s going on. I hope this study will be a success and lead to new treatments for women like me in the future.”
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